Rejoice, here upon this day
Our Emmanuel has come
Blessed hope for all the world
As I was driving to Maryland for work yesterday I began reflecting on a conversation I had the previous evening with a good friend. And for the record, when two friends reply to each other in the comment section of a Facebook post it is a conversation. In our conversation I referenced 1 Peter 3:15 in the bible: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (NIV). I found myself wishing their was a Christmas song that reflected some of the thoughts I had relative to that conversation. Then before I had time to stop wishing, the radio in my truck offered up today’s song. There were no magical stars dancing in the air, the kind often associated with granted wishes; perhaps because there was no magic at all.
I believe those words of scripture could be interpreted to say: always be prepared to explain Christmas. Because for Christians, Christmas is our hope.
I’ve had a fair amount of struggles in my life. Some much bigger than others. Because of them I can clearly recall the day heaven reached down and I finally latched on to the helping hand I had been refusing before that day. It was the day I realized the hope offered in the bonded hands of all humanity pales in comparison to that offered by a baby in a manger. That day I began a journey of understanding that no human effort can prevent struggle; no amount of human love and compassion can promise wholeness again from the damage our struggles bring upon us – and others.
We are residents of a world that will never be immune from struggle. We will forever wake up to morning news stories of murder and illness. Poverty and oppression. Our human imperfections will always cause damage within our families and circles of friends. That is our world. And although the quality of our lives and those who share this world with us is directly impacted by the love and forgiveness we show one another, to me it would be a very depressing battle without some promise that one day our efforts will result in the kind of end product that love should rightfully guarantee. The day I took hold of that hand that reached down from heaven, I felt that promise. I heard its whisper.
Some days I think we get confused about the hope of Christmas. I see us spending so much energy trying to reconcile and mange our perceived imperfections of this world. Reference political season 2012. Most public opinion polls indicate we are as dissatisfied with the conditions of the world as we have ever been. It appears to me the more dissatisfied we are the more we fight for politicians and laws. And the more we fight each other.
I guess it could all be very depressing. But I see such an opportunity in the middle of it all. With what would seem to be so few reasons to be hopeful, certainly the hopeful would stand out. They should be in a position to be asked about and to explain over and over the reason for their hope.
I have a fair amount of struggles in my life. Some bigger than others. But I am as hopeful today as I have ever been. And the reason is Christmas.