The sentimental, sugary, Santa kind of Christmas has me struggling right now. It’s not that I refuse to participate in our commercialized version of the season. In fact, I am very sentimental, love cookies and enjoy getting and giving gifts. No, it’s that I have daily reminders of how difficult Christmas is when family is scarce, memories are painful and presents are an unattainable luxury.

If I’m honest it’s not just the Christmas filled with stuff that has me stirred up. I’m longing for the Christ-child who was born into this world so long ago to fulfill the hope He established and finally make things right. I want poverty, addiction, injustice, disease and war to end. I want weapons to be turned into plowshares. I want estranged friends and families to be reconciled. I want the Kingdom to be fully realized.

There have been times these past few weeks where I have felt deep sadness. Joanna and I have been involved in end-of-life arrangements for someone who found themselves alone in death. We are making plans for a friend who will be entering the palliative phase of illness. We have stood in a tiny apartment, soon to be home, that is completely run-down, smaller than some people’s garages, and ill-equipped for the one moving in.

Just as I’m tempted by despair though a little light flickers that reminds me Christmas will come and hope remains real. A dignified end is now possible for our friend because of the efforts of many. A group of supportive people is going to meet soon to create a plan for our buddy who is sick. With a little elbow grease, that tiny apartment can be more home-like and is SO much better than the street. Last Monday we had a beautiful lunch with Christmas music, dancing, and lots of cookies. It has been chaotic, painful and good.

“We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”- Nouwen

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