It’s raining as I write this. On a Sunday morning during the Christmas season, it doesn’t feel right. I’m home with a sick little one trying to make the best of it. Lighting a candle, heating a scone, brewing the tea. But during the season which is supposed to be full of snow and mistletoe, the rain doesn’t feel right.
I clutch my warm cup and look out my kitchen window at the rain. I hear familiar words coming from the internet radio on my computer: Tears are falling, hearts are breaking. How we need to hear from God! You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting. Welcome, holy Child… and I realize why the rain doesn’t feel right. The rain reminds me that all is not right in our world. It reminds me of the tears falling today, the hearts breaking… in Connecticut, in my city, in my home.
It doesn’t feel right that there are presents under trees in Connecticut homes which will not be opened next week. It doesn’t feel right that a 16-year-old girl we know is fighting for her life in our local hospital after hydroplaning on her way to school. It doesn’t feel right to be grieving the death of my mother-in-law who died on Thanksgiving Day this year. Tears are falling, hearts are breaking…
These hurts don’t feel right when held up next to the idyllic, American Christmas card. They don’t square with ice skating on a pond or roasting chestnuts by a fire. When I think about the perfect Christmas season, I don’t have anywhere to put these hurts. I don’t know what to do with them.
My daughter wrote an essay this week on Jesus’ birth from a shepherd’s perspective. I don’t know how she did it, but she managed to put the hurt of the world, the hurt of her own heart, right into that shepherd’s point of view. Her shepherd didn’t know what to do with his hurt, either. He didn’t know how to deal with death and forgive someone who had hurt him. But after he heard the angels’ announcement and ran through town with the others looking for the baby who was a sign, things changed for him. When he looked into the baby’s eyes, he thought maybe, just maybe, he could find hope. And the ability to forgive.
Thinking of this, a hurting shepherd kneeling in the dirt looking right into the eyes of God, I know exactly what to do with my hurt. I kneel down right there beside him. I pray for hurting mothers in Connecticut, plead for Kirah’s life, and lay out my own confusion with death and forgiveness. And the eyes of that baby give me something that all the Christmas cards in the world can never give… hope.
My hurts feel right at the manger because that’s why he came, isn’t it? To heal our hurts. To begin to make things right. Things aren’t all-the-way-right yet… it’s still raining outside… but the manger gives me hope. The manger, which led to the temple and the synagogue and the seaside, eventually led to the cross. The manger gives me hope because the cross gives us life. Life after death for Connecticut kindergarteners, for my mother-in-law, even for Kirah if that’s his will.
The manger also gives me hope because it tells me that if Jesus came the first time, as he promised, then he will come again. The first Advent gives me hope that there will be a second Advent. And when Jesus comes again, he will make all things right. No more tears, no more breaking hearts, no more violence, no more madness. He will bring shalom, the way things ought to be. That will feel right. So right.
Welcome, holy Child. Come, Lord Jesus.
Lyrics from “Welcome to our World” by Chris Rice