Many of you responded to the last post with words I didn't expect. Truly. I've gotten emails and messages through Facebook and, with different voices, we all said the same thing: this Christmas is different, somehow.
I was thinking about it last night as I got up from the piano and stood in the middle of the front room and stared at the (still half undecorated) tree. Usually I have presents piled underneath it by this time in the season. But this year, on December 10, I can still see the Christmas tree skirt. And then it hit me: many of us are spending our days in the silent company of loss this Christmas. Just raw, consuming loss.
It's true. Some are grieving the loss of someone they dearly loved who is now painfully absent from holiday activities and plans. Stockings are missing. A chair will be empty. A holiday will never again be the same... Some are mourning the loss of a job, a career, a sense of stability. Meals will get skipped. Parties and trips will be put off or avoided. Presents won't be exchanged. (There's just no money.)... Others are mourning the loss of a future they were once confident in. A country that held promise and opportunity. Now, the world is unraveling, and there's talk of dreadful, unspeakable things on the horizon... And still others are suffering through a loss of health and wellness. They'll be there, sure, but their family won't know- they can't let the children/grandchildren see- the agony they feel in their bones. The worry of whether this will be their last Christmas. The fear and grief of knowing time is running out and their days are numbered.
Loss is everywhere this Christmas. We're seeing it on each other's faces and feeling it in our own hearts. Times have changed. Life is different.
But oh, grieving and desperate hearts, Hope is coming, and soon we will see Him with our very own eyes.
Because of Jesus- my Hope whose birth was declared by a star... my Hope whose body hung on a tree- I have assurance that this life will one day be nothing more than a memory. I have hope that one day every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. I am convinced that whatever loss we suffer here we'll someday see with perspective and understanding. I believe we'll be the first to admit these days were "light, momentary afflictions". (Can you imagine? A day when your heart will be so full- and so joyful- that you'll say that without reserve?)
This year, I dragged in the biggest Christmas tree I could find. And I'm decorating it with all the stars I had and can make. Not because I feel merry and holly and jolly this Christmas. I don't. Not amid all the suffering and fear and loss. I did it because this year, because of Calvary's tree, I have hope. I did it because, just as it did 2,000 years ago, a "star" unthinkably appeared in the skies again, declaring that a King is alive and Hope is on its way.
In light of all this- the afflictions... the star... the Hope that this season declares, I'm doing something new this Christmas. I'm wrapping a box of "Christmas cares"- concerns and prayers and griefs and hopes- and putting I'm it at the foot of the tree. The Bible invites us to cast our cares on God, after all, so I'm wrapping them up for Him. And all season long, I'm going to let my cares sit there, at the foot of the tree, underneath the light and the stars, and I'm going to rest in the knowledge that we, too, are secure in the same place- between the cross of Jesus and His glorious coming. Between the gift of His love and the joy of His presence. Between the darkness of death and the light of life.
Wrap your cares, too, if you want. Wrap up a memory. A picture. A letter. A list. Put your concerns or prayers or grief or hopes in a box and wrap them up for Him. And then put it under your tree if you have one... or near a candle if you don't. Take a picture, if you want, of your Christmas cares, and comment here. Or post it online and hashtag it #Christmascares. Together, our silent cares might encourage each other and tell of our assurance in Christ, our reason for celebrating in such a time as this, and our hope that He's coming again to make everything right. Together we can celebrate Christmas this year with tears in our eyes, longing in our souls, and hope in our hearts.
I wish you a Hopeful Christmas this year. -Brin