|The usual service I use for hosting the audio version is still giving me trouble. If you use the link below, it’ll take you to the secondary resource I use.|
|There’s one downside to worshiping with the church on Christmas Eve.|
It means I miss celebrating with a lot of my family. We’re a big, rowdy bunch. Everyone gathers on Christmas Eve to see each other and share the joy of the holiday. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of love.
Grandma used to make tamales. The cousins would play basketball and pool. The adults told stories and we all ate too much. It was at one of those gatherings I first introduced Gloria to my family–that’s a funny story to me.
It didn’t dawn on me until after my first Christmas leading a church. That’s a part of my life I gave up. It’ll be quite a while before I have that family time again.
Now, I’m not complaining. This is part of the calling. And maybe I shouldn’t be so vulnerable. All the leadership books tell me to be strong. That’s how I project quality leadership to you. How silly! I wouldn’t want you to think I was human or anything. That kind of attitude misses part of what is so important about what we celebrate at Christmas.
We hope for God. We hope because we hurt.
We are waiting for what God has promised to come true. It was worth rejoicing when we realized the coming king was finally here the first time. Before that, there had been a long wait. Just like now. We’re waiting for Christ to come again. And it’s been quite a long wait.
It’ll be glorious when it happens. Until then, we live in faith. And that life isn’t always filled with what makes us happy. Now, I don’t mean to suggest my missing family gatherings is the same as the exile of God’s people. It’s not. The ministry I pursued was not a consequence of turning from God, and it is not a burden. But there is a missing piece of my life and heart I experience. It’s something I look forward to having again one day.
All of our despair and pain remind us of that great Christmas line. The “hopes and fears of all the years” are met in Christ.
So, we keep hoping.
The prophet Micah shared what Israel could hope for. Yes, they were exiled. That was a consequence of their ongoing choice to turn from God. But it was never meant to be the end of their life with the Lord.
A day would come when God would assemble the lame and gather those who had been driven away. From their pain would come rejoicing. Out of their weakness, God would establish power and peace.
Considering all the messiness of life today, that is a promise we can still hope for. That was a word given to people living through a particular experience. But the message is the same for us today. God is worth waiting for. The parts of life that trouble and worry us, God will heal. You may not always feel it as powerfully as you would like. So, wait a little more.
The Incarnation is about hope and about trust. It’s about knowing God is faithful. There’ll be healing. There’ll be reconciliation.