Every year I need to remind myself in the season of waiting that Advent is not truly the forced-happy and frantic countdown to Christmas that I can sometimes make it.
Advent is anticipation and longing, the days of earth’s groaning and our own unmet yearnings. It is run-down, weary and hope-starved bodies taking the journey to the manger like heavily pregnant women, dirt-caked shepherds, step by step.
Christmastime is for those able to walk in the joys of the season, recounting memories of blissful days and stringing sugarplum visions on twinkly lights, but it might be more for those who cannot. For without unveiled eyes to see how a broken world is met in love come down, any yuletide beauty is transitory and ultimately pointless.
If Christmas is not for the jacked-up and worn down desperate, it lacks true power to change this world. How would it change me if I believed Christmas was not the perfect end to every longing, so much as a holy response to the continual ache?
To be heart, flesh and bone, yet not alone.
Christmas is for souls seeking worth, connection and freedom. Christmas is for victims of injustice, aching bellies, sickness, addiction, depression and loss. Christmas is for those plagued by anxiety and rejection, voices of condemnation that drown out all others.
Christmas is for the world’s walking wounded.
Jesus came for this crumbling planet that right cries out for healing.
Jesus came for the lonely, so they could know Emmanuel, God With Us.
Jesus came for the weak so they could know the Almighty.
Jesus came for the right here so they could know the Everlasting.
Jesus came so we could know true rejoicing that is not dependent on frame-able moments or a swelling chorus.
Jesus came for your sorrow, your chains, dear friend.
Jesus came in flesh wrappings, in full compassion and never-ending grace to abide with us. Straight into a dung-smelling stable, into scratchy hay and discarded cloth, into our sin-shattered world to be the one who saves.
And before the glorious end, the God With Us waits with us – among all the discarded shards and broken pieces – so HE can be our Peace.