It’s Christmas Eve.
God willing, I am with my family. God willing you are where you should be too.
It’s been a hard year.
We are struggling more than we think fair. I’ve felt and seen too many cruel blows: a death, a job lost, a marriage crumbles, a child turned sour, a friendship destroyed, a broken faith, a mortgage unmet, a difficult prognosis, unmended fences, and a war that won’t cease. It has been a year of lost hope, and many of us are finding ourselves in a thick deep forest…and life’s unkindness has eaten away the trail of crumbs we thought were scattered that might help us find our way back. Maybe, like me, you’ve been walking through fall and winter with a heavy black coat of despair, attempting to keep out the cold—but it’s already bone-deep.
And then comes Christmas. Right after Thanksgiving Day—it rushes upon with more expectations, moments, and sanity to maintain. And maybe you haven’t felt cheery. You felt you didn’t have what it took to send out cards, find and wrap gifts, or put up a tree and string a light or two. And you sit, without some or all of these reminders strewn about. Because you just didn’t feel it, you wished to quietly slip past Christmas, unnoticed. And the thought of having a Christmas spirit is so far from your state of mind that you can’t bear to keep up the charade. And I want to tell you that it’s okay.
It really is.
Because you don’t have to come to Christmas, it comes to you. There is a quiet magic in Christmas Eve that beckons us to shed our burdensome coats and meets us deep in that forest. It arrives and brings the gift you thought was lost. Hope.
It’s the time when the entire world stops for pause, reflection, an a bit of quiet awe. It’s when the snow starts to fall in the lightest of touch. When angel wings protectively wrap around all God’s children. The wind blows through our hair as the Spirit reminds us how human we really are. And in that beckoning, we can slow down and stop. Deep into the night of Christmas Eve, the stores are closed and there is nothing more you can do. It is all done and we must accept: that we did what we could, with what we had, when we had it.
So here we are, deep in that forest – and Christmas Eve has meet us with a box and the tag bears your name. You don’t know what to say or do; you didn’t come prepared. You don’t have a gift to give back, you don’t even have a Christmas decoration up, or a festive scarf, or a cup of eggnog. And it’s still okay. Christmas Eve knew it would find you like this. Quiet and empty.
As you open the presented box, a soft light seeps out and starts to wiggle into your heart.
Let it in.
Let it sink in.
Let it wash over and make you cry. Let the worry of every little thing get coated with the gift of hope. Let Christmas Eve help us turn down the volume of life and turn our ears towards the quiet and still. Let it scatter crumbs that lead us out of thick desolation. Let it soften us enough to walk into a place where the nativity is reenacted. Where we can hold a flickering candle and hear a message of hope. Where strangers hug and cocoa is served. Let it give us courage to do a right thing, for one night. To help us say a prayer, and accept that hope, that magically comes this one special night of the year.
Next year will be here soon enough, and maybe it will be the year our worries become less, and our love becomes more, and our need to give and accept forgiveness keeps digging deeper into our souls—repairing the cracks and crevices the prior year brought.
My friends, I hope and pray, for each of us, that Christmas Eve softens and stills and brings a peace that makes no sense in a world of turmoil. For one day, one night, may we look inside that gift that Christmas Eve delivered with the awe it brings.