Usually on New Year’s Day I am looking forward. This morning, I’m still looking backward, at a Christmas season that has left me so thankful for the Gift.
Some might say Christmas was pretty much ruined this year. The flu bug rampaged through the ranks of my family and friends. Gatherings were canceled or postponed, church services skipped, Christmas hugs and kisses scarce or at best, cautious. Cars developed mechanical problems at the worst possible times; big repair bills dampened spirits; snow, while delightful, changed travel plans. A mother’s death changed lives. Friends were in a serious accident. I spent Christmas Eve in the waiting room, sitting through my Dad’s emergency surgery and later in the week had my own episodes of illness. And over everything, every day, I felt the terrible shadow of Newtown.
Yet, after having celebrated many previous Christmases, this year I finally began to see the real story. Years of trees and tinsel, food and gift-giving and parties and yes, even beautiful Christmas Eve services, have not helped me understand Christmas as well as these weeks of living in a world that holds so much disappointment, despair, hopelessness, and death.
Most of our traditional Christmas celebrations were stripped away this year and I caught a glimpse of what happened that night in Bethlehem. Christ stepped into our darkness, was willing to live right in it with us, so that He could battle and defeat its power and make a way for us back to God. The real story is light coming to darkness and hope coming to hopelessness.
Joy to the world! The Lord has come — and continues to come to all our darkness.
How will I celebrate next year? I am still pondering that; I’m not sure what I will do next December to honor the Light and the hope we’ve been given. But it seems to me that love that bestows such a gift should be celebrated all year; and that the children of God, who are now a part of His mission on this earth, should be bringing light and hope into dark corners, every day in every way they can.
One thing I know: celebrating Christmas will be different for me, for the rest of my allotted seasons.