Because of Christmas

There is a stocking hanging on my mantle that will not get filled this year.

There are presents I do not have to buy and secrets I do not have to keep.

There is an empty place at our table, an empty place in my heart.

Scattered spaces all around.

I miss my girl.

Mamas are the memory keepers, so I hold them close. I protect them. But lately I have kept the box locked up tightly so the sharp edges will not hurt so much.

A treasure box I am afraid to open.

When the contents spill out unexpectedly, there are smells and sights and feelings–both precious and grievous. Some days I cannot close it fast enough.

But some days I linger long. I sit with grief awhile. I let the warm tears fall.

Christmas carols play in the background, and it is surprising how somber they sound. Mournful even, and I suppose it should not surprise me. God in flesh–a glorious occasion and the beginning of salvation. But there is also a sober acknowledgement of betrayal and suffering and a cross to come.

It is humbling to think that the angels rejoiced. That God so willingly gave His most precious Son for us with hearts so unwilling to love Him.

It is an astounding choice, really. To choose suffering instead of comfort. A stable instead of a throne.

I have this new awareness of suffering, and it seems like there are aching hearts all around this year. There is truth in this suffering, and it can be the only truth you feel some days.

Those are the days when you cannot close the box. Those are the days the tears will fall.

The joy of Christmas would be a shallow happiness without the truth of a Savior’s death and resurrection. The sunrise would not be so glorious without the blackness of the night.

We experience sorrow, but we are waiting for joy. Death’s shadow cannot obliterate the rising light. Though tears may fall, a day of such gladness is coming.

Hold fast, friend. It is coming.

The deepest sorrow may be your truth this day, this year. But it is not the only truth. It is not the final truth.

Because of God and His amazing love. Because of His glorious sacrifice. Because of His willingness to come.

Because of Christmas.

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:77-79



Where are you, Christmas?


Twinkling lights and carols and manger scenes. Crackling fires and candlelight and sugar cookies. Packages and whispered secrets. Advent readings and hope held softly.

Where are you, Christmas?

The memories of last year haunt me, and I am holding back from stirring all that up in my heart. Sometimes it is just easier to stay in the shallow places.

But there is a stubborn joy that summons me. Calls me out of my sadness, hums when I am least inclined to listen. It rises gently, like the sun rising after a long and stormy night.

It stills my soul and softens grief.

Because I remember Christmas.

I remember delighted children and stories read by Christmas tree light. I remember kitchen messes and sticky fingers and the lingering smell of cinnamon.

I remember the warmth of love, how it would catch in the back of my throat, tears filling my eyes at the most mundane of moments.

I remember chaos and laughter and joy.

That is what I remember.

But I know without question there were other emotions present, other happenings. I know there were arguments and melt-downs and impatience. Stress and pressure and exhaustion.

I know that I was often overwhelmed. That calm felt far away at times.

And I feel that now. A searching for peace in this grief that threatens to swallow me. A need for renewal of joy and a contented heart. For truthful worshipping.

Searching for Christmas. Searching for Christ.

And remembering why He came.

Because He came to rescue from all the doing and trying and failing. To rescue from all the darkness and sin inside of us. The sin that separates us from God and never leaves us–selfishness and pride and unbelief. The sin of falling short and never doing enough, never being enough.

Infant child and mighty God–He came to save us.

And He is the only one who can fill that empty place in us. Bring light to our hearts and minds. Give us hope and a future. Provide a way to peace with God.

He is the one who can hold us up, carry us in our weakness. He can put our feet on a rock and make our paths straight. He can revive and restore and bring peace.

He can heal all of the broken places inside of us. The churning and the doubting and the grasping. The longing for more or for different. The disquiet. The sorrow.

He can satisfy. He can penetrate all the hurting places. He can make all things new.

He can still the sadness, speak peace into the not-so-silent night.

Won’t you let Him?

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.