Ah, the joys of Christmas! As I am writing this, I am listening to the words, "O tidings of comfort and joy ..." The Christmas story tells of angels promising good news to all the world.
Homes are decorated with lights and trees meant to bring out the joy of the season. Outside, lights of every colour one can think of shimmer and glisten off the snow. Children are getting excited about the Day where gifts are found under the tree. Dinners are being planned. Visits are in the making. People of all faiths and beliefs crowd the stores to get the best deals for presents that are to be wrapped and carefully hidden. There is a season of giving, loving, even forgiveness in the air.
This is truly an exciting time. Or is it?
My mind goes to the eighth floor of our local hospital where a dear friend lays dying. In our Sunday prayers, we remembered at least a half a dozen people who are fighting the same disease. There is a lovely lady who was feeding her husband near the elevators in the hospital. I had spoken to them before, and so I asked how his day was going. It was a good moment for them both, and he said, "not good." I thought he was speaking of his lunch, but she clarified he is not well, and he knows it.
In this time of festivity and celebration there is much pain to be found. There are the lonely, the depressed, the homeless who are hurting. Broken marriages, familial disagreements, unforgiven sins will once again come to the front of those who suffer them. Some will celebrate Christmas without their spouse, child, and friend for the first time this year. There is heartbreak all around us, maybe within us as well.
The saddest of all are those who will reject the good news of Jesus this Christmas. There will be those who will pursue a myth rather than truth. My heart breaks for children who will never learn of the Christ of Christmas. Those whose lives are without Christ will celebrate the hollowness of the world's treasures, This is where the church's heart must break, and go back to Bethlehem.
It is there that God promises good news to all. Salvation from the sins is offered in the God who chose to become flesh and dwell among us. In all of the bad news around us, in all of the sorrow that earth can muster, there is this Good News: Jesus! Jesus is Godss good news in the pain of Christmas -- and it is for all who will stop, listen and hear what God has brought to the earth.
May we, who are whole, whose pain is hidden in Christ, be as the shepherds were at that stable: rejoicing and tell everyone all that had happened! May each of us make a difference to someone else this Christmas season - and all year long,