The hope of Christmas

Last year I wrote a series about my 12 joys of Christmas. It was fun, a little out of character for my blog in general, and ended up being a nice bit of fluff during a stressful time of year.

This year, however, I’m feeling… blue. Melancholy. Grieving. I feel just as much joy as I usually do (Christmas trees and twinkle lights and festive wrapping will always warm my heart), but this year that joy rests alongside a throbbing anguish, a recognition of the large, cruel, fixable-with-the-right-people-in-power, injustices in and caused by this country. A recognition of how much this season advertises a hope, a respite in the midst of pain, that the weak and vulnerable will, someday, be saved.

One of the songs I listen to on repeat every year is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” It is delicate, lyric, lush, and haunting.

This year I can’t listen to it without crying. Not because of its beauty (which it has), but because of the longing it conveys. It communicates such surety, such confidence in the hope that that longing will be met and fulfilled.

But what about those born into and dying in horrors? Those who grow up in war, who die in war. Those who travel to another country in the hope of finding a safe, productive home. For those people, a savior never came. Their hope was never met. And the “promise” of eternal bliss is not always enough to overcome the incredible suffering and anguish of the present moment.

The thought of unmet hope destroys me. Having hope is better than not having hope, but hoping for, and never getting, your savior is a gutting kind of disappointment, especially when it is indicative of a violent, painful, altogether hellish reality.

So this season I’m thinking a lot about the children separated from their parents at the border. Of those stricken with cancer at a young age with a dire prognosis. Of those longing for a home. Those longing for security. For peace. Those missing loved ones. Christmas is touted as a season of hope but it comes in a world and a time ravaged by grief and unfulfilled hopes. I hope I don’t lose sight of that.

I also hope this ache I feel, made more poignant during Christmas, stays with me in the new year and motivates me to be even more committed to fighting injustice and cruelty wherever I see it. Maybe we can all be part of the fulfillment of hope.


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