It seems the closer Christmas draws near, the more distracted I can become from the real point of it all. You too? Schedules seem to squeeze out each opportunity to bask in the grace of an infant child come to save us all. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard for me to even connect with that. How can it be that the tiny babe we see in the nativity scenes would be the one to die a man? He was innocent at death, but in a manger? Swaddled in cloth and laying next to His mother? He is even more so the image of innocence.
Yesterday, this truth hit me harder than usual while at church. We began a new sermon series called Coming Soon, and yesterday’s sermon was all about the lead up in the Old Testament to Jesus’ birth and death. We sang Christmas songs about the birth of our Lord and ended it with a song about a rugged cross. And then, we took communion. Communion with the image fresh in our minds of a sweet baby boy.
I walked to the table and could barely look the man in the eye as he quietly spoke of body and blood as I took my portion. Then, I sat huddled next to my husband back at our small table toward the back of the dark room. The line to get cup and bread stretched right in front of our table…right against it. And as people stood right in front of me, I wished to sink under the table. I bowed my head with my tiny plastic cup of juice and piece of cracker in my hands. How could I? How could I take this knowing such innocence was poured out for me? I twirled the cracker in my fingers nervously and soaked the table in the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing. It was my sin that put him there. If everyone in the entire world had managed to live victoriously over sin, my sins would still be enough to nail him to a cross….and he would have still given his life for me, because that’s the kind of God we serve.
I finally drank and ate, but the crackers felt stuck in my teeth and throat. As the minutes passed, the silence in the room faded, and I looked up to see the people of my church. They crossed rows to greet and hug. I saw smiles and slaps on the back with laughter. And for one moment, I thought, “how do we jump from such heaviness to laughter so quickly?” Then, I remembered that the Hebrew word for “glory” actually comes from the word meaning “to be heavy.” This heaviness is the only way that laughter happens. His Glory is what brings our joy. We had just listened to a pastor speak on hope, and then we swallowed hope down and let it spill back out of our hearts.
I walked out watching the faces of so many. I saw smiles and tears, laughter and loving hugs in sadness. A room full of broken people who are brokenly desperate for that hope so painfully offered up to us. And as we walked out, we passed a beautiful nativity scene, and I looked again at that baby and thought on a life without His birth. What would even be the point? What would even be the point of laughter and grief and finances…even presents and decorations without Him? What would be the point of Christmas if there were no hope for us all? If this was all we had?
We went home to bake cookies and watch Christmas movies, all the while, the hope of Jesus swam through my mind and heart. What about you? Where does your hope lie this Christmas?