One week from today it will all be over. Christmas trees will start appearing on the curb, bagged up with Friday’s trash. Stores will be clearing out what remains of Christmas. The recovery process will start anew for many different people in many different ways. And life will start ebbing back to normal.
One week from today it will all be over for many, but not for all. For our tiny clan, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and the days preceding) are so packed with activities that we will not have our family gathering until one week from today. So, please don’t call me on the 26th – or if you do, don’t expect me to answer.
One week from today it will all be over for many, but there is another group of many for which the pain of the season will linger. It may be the new normal of a first holiday without a loved one in the gathering, or it might be the persistent normal of hurt from Christmases past. For others the short reprieve from loneliness will only highlight how dark the year ahead will be.
We live in a fallen world that looks to be busting apart at the seams. Death and violence … political and internet bullying … drugs and pornography … hatred in families and children raised with no hope. So, before it’s all over, it is important (at least for me) to be reminded of the real ‘new normal that the first Christmas brought to humankind (a strange word, don’t you think?).
This was the message to God’s people some 700 years before that first Christmas: “The gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times. In the future (God) will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod of their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did in the day of Midian. …For a child will be born for us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. His dominion will be vast, and his prosperity will never end. … The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9.1-7)
The fulfillment of this promise came on the first Christmas. This means that, in the midst of all personal or public chaos, we have living in our midst the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of peace … his dominion is vast, and the blessings of his kingdom will never end. I’ve seen this child of the manger raise up people from incredible devastations, tragic decisions and hopeless situations.
In fact, just this week I have heard stories of God at work that brought tears to my eyes. And the same thing was true the week prior, and the week before that. What does this tell me? I think its pretty simple – One week from today I will still be saying the same thing.
My prayer is that God opens your eyes to see what I see.