We Wait?

For church folks, the weeks leading up to Christmas is a season called “Advent,” which refers to the “coming” birth of our Savior. So, we wait. This time of year, the veil between the mundane and the scared is particularly thin, for believers as well as the disinclined. It’s as if Christmastime is some kind of divine solstice, with God bending the earth’s orbit to bring us closer to his presence for these precious few weeks. This year, anticipate your brush with the sacred. Christmas lights, peace on earth, glad tidings, sacred songs, a crackling fireplace; wonder and joy shining in a child’s sweet face. Moments such as these are fleeting and easy to miss if we’re not vigilant. If we wait carefully, we can experience something this season that is much more profound than simple nostalgia for our own childhoods. We can experience hope. Hope in an event that changed the trajectory of human history, as well marking it: BC (before Christ) and after – AD (Anno Domini).  A Savior is born. A promise foretold and fulfilled. This is from Isiah 9, written 700 years prior to the birth of Jesus:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. “

In his day, only a handful of believers recognized the Price of Peace walking among them. Fewer still, held fast to their belief after his death on the cross. Yet today, Christian believers number over two billion. To rework the famous Steven Stills lyric from his 1960s anthem, For What It’s Worth: “Something’s happening here!” This season, allow something to happen. Let the “good news” wash over you- the promise of forgiveness and God’s grace, even if the catalyst is as mundane as a strand of twinkly lights or as secular as “Chestnuts Roasting.” There is a moment every year, usually during the congregational singing of Silent Night on Christmas Eve, that to me feels like the very essence of peace on earth.  As if we are levitating together above the discord. Above self-interest. One body. Joined. Many of us suffer profound grief over the holidays. Fractured relationships, disappointments, ill health, absent loved ones- hardships that come into sharper relief when we experience what seems like everyone else’s holiday joy. It can take a sad song and make it…well, not better, but worse- to rework another famous song lyric from the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” This season, keep the hope of Jesus tucked away in a corner of your heart, no matter what tune is playing in your head. Hope in a birth. Faith in a story. Joy in a promise. Comfort in knowing that we are not alone in the fight. Merry Christmas! The song pairing is “Merry Christmas Lift Up Your Voices.” Until next time, stay safe, be brave and keep walking in the light.

Merry Christmas Lift Up Your Voices
Somewhere tonight a baby is born
in the arms of the angels
and in heaven and earth and forever more
tonight, everything changes

Merry Christmas, lift up your voices
Merry Christmas, lift up your voices today

And He brings good news
in all the trouble and strife
And He brings good news, good news He brings
He brings, he brings new life

Merry Christmas, lift up your voices
Merry Christmas, lift up your voices today

And the night is cold
and the winter sky is clear
and there’s a million stars shinning down
on all of us here.

Merry Christmas, lift up your voices
Merry Christmas, lift up your voices today

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