Look around you this season. Light is everywhere. From the strings of red, blue, yellow and green hung from the eaves and draped over railings and hedges to the flicker of the candles that fill a room with the soft light so characteristic of this time of year. In these months when the days are shortest, still we find ways of filling our lives with light.
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness...
And yet, this can also be a dark season. There are parts of us that are broken, longing, hurt. I see a little of that in my own heart at times. And for others, there may be great pain this season. There may be joy, yes, but mixed with the sadness of a life not quite as they hoped it would be. Regret. Loss. Unfulfilled hope. Whatever it is, we don't feel quite whole. There are cracks in our lives, in our hearts.
Do not be afraid, do not be afraid
..........Love has found its way to you, do not be afraid...
One of the things I love about this time of year is that, if I actually take the time to think about the baby boy born on Christmas eve, I am reminded again of new hope, new life, new promise. It's fitting, somehow, that Christmas is at the end of the year. Whatever the year has brought us - the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly - it all gets wrapped up in one last hurrah of boisterous parties, holiday food, generosity and goodwill, and, if we're wise, quiet reflection. It's a time to look back, to look forward... to look up. The baby, from cradle to cross, at the center of it all.
Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free
..........From our sins and fears release us, let us find our rest in thee
It's in the times of feeling that I'm so imperfect, have made so many mistakes, have so many cracks in who I want to be, that I am reminded that that's just how God wants me to come to him this Christmas. I don't have to be all polished and perfect, all my issues dealt with, all my problems solved. Instead, I can come in rough and dishelveled, goof-ups and muddy feet from the year that has almost passed in plain view, and kneel down beside the manger. Cracks and all, I offer what little I have to give to the baby lying there.
Ring the bells that still can ring
..........Forget your perfect offering
....................There is a crack, a crack in everything
..............................But that's how the Light gets in.
Light of the World... from Here I Am To Worship by Tim Hughes
Do not be afraid... from Do Not Be Afraid by Carolyn Arends [listen]
Come thou long expected Jesus... from the hymn of the same name
Ring the bells... from Anthem by Leonard Cohen