As Advent 2020 began, I continued to struggle with health challenges. Grieving losses, mine and those I care about, I worked hard not to carry the weight of our crazy world in my heart. (I tried, anyway.) Seeing Christmas lights and plastic cartoon figures pop up around our neighborhood, I put out the figures for our manger scene, one lone cow resting under the light.
The shepherd and his lambs watched the skies from the mantel.
Mary, Joseph and the donkey journeyed across the bookcase in the next room, then on to the mantel.
Wise men and camels made their way from the Far East – well, from the corner.
Some days, heavy with sad news from others or a downward turn in my health, I felt stuck in that far corner, too.
Nevertheless, the characters slowly made their way toward the manger as I prayed for the Creator Life to come in a new fresh way to all those I was praying for against so much darkness, and into my heart.
On December 21st , I was struck by the buzz about the convergence of Saturn and Jupiter, dubbed the “Christmas star.”
Hopeful excitement in 2020 is welcome and worth pondering!
Not well enough to go, I waited for my husband’s pictures from the Celery Fields. When I saw his photos and those on social media, I wondered, what are they seeking?
With a year like this, with death and sickness from COVID, uncountable loss of life, health, jobs, plans, security, companionship, activities, and normalcy, and adding in the racial strife, so much anger in our cities and our political process, wild fires that wouldn’t stop burning, and hurricane after hurricane bringing devastation…
You know the list. You likely have your own personal anguish or loss to add to it.
Aren’t we all looking for light out of the darkness of 2020?
We did our part with a Bethlehem star above our house and warm candles in the window (offering a welcome we couldn’t extend this year).
We tried, anyway.
But the truth is, even before 2020, in some ways we were “cooped and crawling.”
“And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,― Omar Khayyám, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to it for help — for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.”
I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
As we read over and over in Eccleseastes, eveything under the sun is futile, like leaves blowing in the wind. That’s life outside of God’s presence.
Even the best of us are in some way darkened or twisted by our faults, or have suffered from someone else who is acting out of their pain.
How often we search for the light in some way, through a person, a job, a possession, accomplishments, success, even if just a series of small happenings, like a great meal or a day at the beach. However, too often we find ourselves still wanting, still seeking.
In that pursuit, especially this year, some have found themselves lost in addiction or hopelessness.
As I gazed at the waiting crèche, I realized why I treasure those little porcelain figures, why I enact my little pageant every year. As they glow in the Christmas lights they remind me how much I need the Creator and Sustainer of life itself to enter my world, our world.
My heart needs redeeming, over and over again. So I sing, “Come, oh come Immanuel,” not just in Advent or Christmas, but daily.
“Joy to the World, the Lord has come!” is more than nice music. Thankfully, the coming of the light is not a once in a lifetime event like the convergence of those planets.
Yes, we have a bright star to lead us. The Light of Christ has come into the world to bring light into our darkness, every day.
Hope for those in pain or isolation.
Freedom from whatever keeps us cooped and crawling.
Everyone is ready to bid 2020 goodbye, with high hopes that 2021 will bring a release from isolation and fear of infection. But only one thing is certain.
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.John 1: 1-5
The light has come. Help isn’t just “on the way.”
He is here. God with us.