Inevitable Christmas Reality

It’s almost here. It’s that sweet and dreadful holiday…Christmas.

We love it…mostly. We hate it…somewhat. We get together with family and it’s sweet. But it’s also hard.

I came across this haunting melody that reflects some of this tension. Give it a listen.

The picture is painted of the sweet but strained gathering with people we love, but people who change. And the sore spots from the past and the tensions created by the change that we know is inevitable are all a part of the gathering. As the lyric so poignantly says,

Our families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
But our bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow

Being together – gathering closely causes us to bump the sore spots without even trying. But we do so – even as we state our purpose to celebrate the birth of Christ – in our brokenness and incompleteness. We have to – God help us – we MUST see this truth: that’s why He came.
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From the Inside Out

I have this affinity for Christmas music, perhaps due to the resonating truths married to simple melody that stirs something in me. While it’s not necessarily about Christmas, this enchanting carol, Dona Nobis Pacem, has long haunted my ears.

There are only three words, “Dona nobis pacem,” which is latin for “grant to us peace.” I encourage you to take just a moment and let this beautiful instrumental soothe your soul.

What a beautiful prayer. Grant to us peace. What a fitting holiday sentiment. And I find myself wrestling with the weight of things that don’t seem particularly peaceful. This week alone I have spent almost 20 hours in or driving to and from hospitals. My heart has been heavy for folks that are very dear to me who are in times that are not principally characterized by peace.

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O Come

This cool Christmas morning I find myself with a strange mix of gratitude and longing. I am blessed beyond description and am indeed the richest man I know in the measures that matter. I was given some very sweet and thoughtful gifts for which I am tremendously grateful.

In the midst of the gratitude there is still a longing for something that is yet to come.

This is the same sentiment that I think is so beautifully captured in the longing celebration of this song – beautifully rendered here by a group called Vineyard:

This song is rich with longing – the plea ringing, “O Come, O Come…” like the longing of a prisoner in hope of deliverance.

And yet it is a call to celebrate the reality of Emmanuel’s coming – “Rejoice! Rejoice!”

There is a beautiful simplicity in it. It captures what I am more and more convinced every day is the needful condition of our hearts. There is a gratitude-infused dissatisfaction with life the way it is – the way WE are. It is a peace in the present simultaneous with a longing for where we will be.

A grateful discontent.

This Christmas and every day going forward, may we be blessed with the grace to find this grateful discontent that relishes the joys of each moment and yet leans forward into the becoming that yet remains, It is that mingling of thankfulness for all that God has done and a hunger for what He is yet intending. It’s what makes us enjoy life here while still longing for that home to which we have never yet been. It’s the grace to recognize how far God has brought us and yet long for more of HIs grace in our becoming.

Let us rejoice because Emmanuel – GOD WITH US – has surely come to us. But let us, at the same time, long for more of His coming, His renewing of us, and His ultimate consummation of our blessed hope of an eternity in His presence.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)