This year’s Christmas season is not laden with the expectations of extended family celebrations, festive Christmas meals, and open doors to visitors come to share the joy of the days of rest and peace that fill the Christmas season.
Pandemic loss and grief weigh upon these Christmas days and bring shadows to our hearts.
Maybe we feel empty. Like the world has stopped. Worry for the future seeps into the celebration of God-with-us who was born among us…. And…where is he for me? Now?
Your heart’s cry, whatever it may be, let it blend with the wail of the Infant King that midnight at his birth.
At birth a baby wails if they are not reunited with their mother after a few seconds. They cry because they may be bruised and sore from the trauma of birth. Perhaps they are cold. “Crying is the key to life,” one doctor said as he described the big difference from when baby is delivered to when she takes her first cry. When they’re born, they appear lifeless and purple. But when they make that first cry, the baby goes from being purple to pink, and they start moving, even opening their eyes for the first time. “It truly is a miracle!”
We all have been bruised by this year. Our hearts are sore from the trauma of loss and constant fear of an unseen enemy that can cause the death of loved ones. We have been isolated from anyone who has been our support in life. We’ve lost jobs, money, business, opportunities, graduations, weddings….
Crying is the key to life.
In the days after Christmas, allow your tears to mingle with the Infant’s cry. Throughout his life Jesus cried. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He wept over Jerusalem. He wept in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I’m sure he wept when he met his mother after the resurrection. Tears are a part of hoping.
My heart’s pain becomes focused when I cry. Finding someone to receive my tears is really important, even if it is a simple phone call to someone who will understand.
Tears say, “I acknowledge that this hurts. These tears cleanse and heal my heart’s brokenness and sorrow. They make way for the miracle of life, new life, new hope, renewal.” Jesus’ tears were shed at moments when the birth of renewal was underway: new life for Lazarus, entering into the drama of the passion as he wept over Jerusalem, the new life that would emerge from the passion into resurrection….
At every moment Jesus is working something new upon the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit is even at this moment being poured out upon all peoples.
Jesus’ human tears shed at moments of disappointment, grief, and fear, kept him steady and present in the emptiness of all that was missing and all that he was living. Tears keep us from running away. Tears help us bridge isolation as we reach out to another or allow us to hold the pain of someone else.
Tears keep us present until the dawn begins to break. They make sure we don’t miss the inflow of compassionate relief that gives us rest after the bitterness of our weeping. They force us to reach out to someone who at that moment is standing in the dawn and able to offer to us a few words that like a life raft carry us to safety.
So this Christmas, if tears are there waiting to be shed, let them mingle with the tears of Jesus who is our God-with-us. Reach out to another as you enter your sorrow. Be patient as the darkness of a cloudy night gives way to the first break of a tentative dawn’s beauty. Step into the newness that only faith acknowledges. God is at work in whatever you are living, that whatever is taking over your life is momentarily about to give way to God’s new power in your life.
After all, life, I believe, really is a miracle!