Everything feels more chaotic around Christmas – we race everywhere to buy those last-minute gifts and get to this party and that. Festive fever hits us all.
This afternoon I was battling the traffic on one of the roads near me, and I saw the sign: “Christmas is for blessing – not for stressing.” Trite, I thought. And easier said than done. But I thought about what it implied. Instead of letting the season overwhelm us, it pays to look at how we might truly give to others.
Tragedy doesn’t stop for Christmas – as we discovered when the news of Sandy Hook Elementary School hit us. All of us are struggling with different issues right now, and people die in horrific, unspeakable ways every day, all over the world. But the stories we’ve heard just break our hearts. We are reminded that no-one is exempt from tragedy and heartbreak. Those children and teachers didn’t expect that when they headed off to school on December 14, they wouldn’t see the end of the day.
What does Jesus do with such tragedy – such horror? I read this prayer today, penned by author Max Lucado upon hearing the news:
“Dear Jesus, It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately. These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated. The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation? Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence. Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene. Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger. This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us. Hopefully,
I am so thankful that my Jesus is no stranger to darkness. To the utter blackness and desolation of the human heart. Let’s join Lucado in asking that Jesus will enter and abide deeply in our hearts as we grieve the multitude of tragedies birthed in the darkness – and bring them into the wonderful, healing light of his love. Holding his hand won’t make the sadness go away in an instant, but he’ll show us how to walk through it, no matter how big and overwhelming it seems.
Lord Jesus, have mercy. Shine your light where there is none to be seen. And may we know how to shine it on others so they will truly be blessed this Christmas.
“Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.”