Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tis the Season

"'Tis the season to be jolly..."  I wonder who decided that we're supposed to be "jolly" around Christmastime, and I wonder how he or she came to that conclusion.  Certainly not from reading the Christmas story that I know, the one described in the Gospels, for there is nothing "jolly" about that first Christmas.

I'm sure Mary and Joseph wouldn't have described life as jolly: to be a young, unmarried couple expecting a baby and living in a small Jewish village.  To be surrounded by gossip and suspicion and judgement.  To be forced to travel by donkey eighty or more miles to be registered for the purpose of paying taxes to a government they feared and resented.  To find only a dirty stable in which to give birth to their first child, surrounded only by animals instead of Mary's mother and the local midwives she had expected to have by her side.  No, I see nothing "jolly" about any of that.

I also see so much in our world today that is far from jolly.  I see friends hurting in so many ways: grieving the loss of loved ones, of their marriages, of the life they used to know.  I see people over-stressed because of the economy or unmet expectations or dreams that are always just out of reach.  I see families stretched to their limits by school programs, office parties and so many other commitments.  It is very difficult for me to see anything "jolly" about this season at times.

I'll tell you what I do see at Christmas, though.  Hope.  When Jesus arrived in that dirty stable so many years ago, He brought with Him HOPE.  Hope for a better future for all of us.  Hope that there is something beyond the mayhem of this life.  Hope that loneliness and bitterness and grief will not always have the upper hand.  Hope that when my rope has frayed down to its last strand, there is Someone there to catch me, Someone to cling to, Someone who cares.  Yes, I find HOPE in the Christmas season, and even when I don't or can't feel "jolly," I know that I can cling to that Hope and to the One who brings it.  I pray that you, too, will embrace Him this Christmas and throughout the coming year.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of HOPE the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

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