as i was talking to my dad about tree-decorating, etc, he mentioned that the spirit of the holiday just wasn’t in their house. i resonated with this. each year since my parents’ divorce has been different. sometimes i feel the wonderful peacefulness of the holiday, and others i feel disappointment and loneliness as Christmas serves as a reminder for all that has been lost.
last year, about this time, i was feeling especially low. i was in the midst of cleaning up a messy break-up and dealing with the holidays and just felt sad, a lot. i met with one of the pastor’s at church, and his encouragement was this: just before Jesus came, the days were grower shorter, darker, and the people of God were losing hope that there was an answer. and just like that, in the dead of the night, in a dirty barn, a little baby was born. Jesus. Emmanuel. God-with-Us. a reminder that God sees us, and longs to be with us. basically, you’re not alone in feeling that all is not as it should be, because it really isn’t. but there is hope coming.
i think we get all wrapped up in this idea of the “spirit” of the season, of the gushy movies we watch that show the Holiday as something so perfect, and warm, and cheery. there are bits and pieces of that for sure, but perhaps the more honest thing is to admit that it’s hard. that life is growing darker, and seems hopeless, and we are in desperate need of a God who desires to be near us. we are in desperate need of a reminder that He is bigger than all this, for lack of a better word, crap around us.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” has become one of my favorite songs in recent years, as it presents the deep cry of humanity: come, God. come and pay our ransom. we are being held captive and drowning in despair. come, oh God-with-us.
so, in this “season,” however it may be looking for you, hear the Father’s words to His children:
broken, battered people. i see you in the midst of your despair, and am about to do something. you will find me when you look for me in the dark, deserted places. i will come humbly to live among you, to restore you and make things right. do not lose hope, for i love you more than words can ever express.