Christmas Eve

**It is Christmas Eve, I am sitting under a warm blanket amidst a relatively clean home, and I don’t quite know what I want to say, and yet I am here writing.  There’s laundry and final shopping and such, but a quiet house, rain on the windows, and a sleeping dog are much better calling cards.**

Facebook has been active lately with all types of posts.  But a few are standing out.  One was a working mother with two boys stressing over her lack of baking.  Another was a shared article about a mother struggling with family Christmas cards after the death of a son.  Another, a woman struggling to get through the holidays for the first time without her mother.  And then, finally, the lyrics of some song about the birth of Christ.  

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

~Andrew Peterson’s Labor or Love

All of this out there for the taking on Facebook.  It made me do a double take.  We talk about the happiness of this season, with the wrapping and the presents, the giving, the acts of kindness, the children, the candy, the pictures, the Christmas Eve services and holiday clothing.  The tree.  And popcorn.  And good food.  And prayers.  And a cute Nativity set out on the foyer entrance table.  

So when a person doesn’t feel that happy, that excited, that giving, that pleased with the whole red and green season, it seems wrong.  We have been taught that Christmas is a happy time.  Advent is the dark before the light.  But Christmas, well, it is a celebration.  Of Light that has come into the world.  So we should be happy.  Grateful.  Reflective.  Prayerful.  Children should be cute.  Adults, blessed.  And if we aren’t feeling it, something is wrong with us.  We aren’t getting it.

But what if the ones not in the mood are the ones that truly do get it?  Christ did come, and we are grateful.  But he came because the world wasn’t right.  People were struggling.  Darkness prevailed.  It wasn’t happy, happy.  And his birth wasn’t cute.  It was painful and dirty and bloody.  And the momma was most likely not quiet and pretty and the daddy was quite honestly, probably, feeling a bit overwhelmed at the destitute situation.  And though Jesus was “the Light” in the world, the whole world didn’t get that memo the moment his head crowned and Mary screamed.  Yes, screamed.  In pain.  

So those feeling loss and ache and emptiness and overwhelm and stress and anxiety and loneliness. They are the ones that may be getting what Christmas is for.  Christmas is a hope that those feelings may pass.  It isn’t some immediate solution.  It is just a hope.  Hope for better.  Hope for love.  For good memories.  For peace.  For breathing without a boulder in the throat.  For less ache and tears.  For acceptance.

Christmas is hope – and God’s promise.  And we know the whole story.  God knew when he sent Jesus that Jesus would die a gruesome death.  He was setting into motion our salvation and His sacrifice.  Again, I am guessing if God was human, he’d have some conflicting feelings.  Baby, yay!  Assured gruesome, painful death, boo!  I mean, yes, Christmas is a celebration.  Feeling overwhelming gratitude and happiness and a little buzz from the eggnog is a good and normal reaction.  

But so is the opposite.  Those feelings are normal too.  I feel comfortable saying that I guarantee God gets it.  

Whole point of Jesus, actually.  

So those of you in the moody pew or sitting at home not feeling the Spirit, know that you are not alone, you are normal and justified in those feelings, and that there is Hope.  There was Hope when Mary screamed, and there is still Hope today.  

**And just for the record, I have not sent out Christmas cards in years.  Gave up.  Too hard.  Baking, well, yeah.  That was my mom’s thing.  I have tried, but I am not her.  She was Superwoman of the Christmas cookies, and I did not inherit that power.  Presents, nope, not wrapped.  Me? Still sitting here under this blanket.  Family?  At Waffle House because Clif bars aren’t enough for breakfast.  And tonight for that big meal?  Can’t eat at the dining room table because I have yet to give up on some pitiful attempt to put together a yard sale that started gathering in that room three months ago.  So we’re having soup in the kitchen.  After my kids play their parts in a play that the church is putting on, which we found out about after soccer season when we showed back up again.  Yep.  Going to do some laundry now.  Grateful I own all that dirty stuff, too.  There are kids in Africa with less.  Seriously.**

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