It's November 6th. And as the classic Andy Williams sings, "It’s (already) beginning to look a lot like Christmas". There's already TV commercials on TV ads of people wearing their Santa hats and kids opening gifts on Christmas morning. Stores quickly got rid of the fall decorations to put up the Christmas trees, wreathes and gift sets of cheeses and perfumes. My daughter started listening to Christmas music before the end of October! Right now I'm in Miami, Florida and there’s even a tall building where I’m looking out in the warm Miami sun with a ginormous wreath on the front of the sky-rise.
On November 1st my friend, whom I share an office with at work, and I were also about ready to listen to Christmas music at the beginning of November, and we did for about half an hour, but we weren’t quite ready and changed it to some good 70s and 80s music. But now it IS time to listen to it because it’s after Thanksgiving and I personally think, it’s officially the Christmas season. It also means it’s the first week of Advent, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years – the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, when God became flesh and lived here on this earth for about 30 years.
At the beginning of November, I was in Miami, FL with my husband for a few days while he was at a conference for work. It has been the busiest schedule this fall and now that I’ve gone back to work after 17 years, it’s been an adjustment to what I’ve been used to. So, this was a needed break that I relishing and did the things that charge me up - reading, writing and listening. And since I was sitting outside at the pool, seeing this big Christmas wreath, I couldn’t help but think during this holiday season, it’s supposed to be a time for us to slow down, pay attention, listen, be at peace, realize all the things we need to be thankful for and the anticipation and joy of our Savior’s arrival. Even though Miami was anything but quiet and slow, I felt that way in my own little world there.
It made me think how life speeds up (probably over the speed limit sometimes), so much that we don’t have time to thank or reflect. We’re bombarded with extra responsibilities, shopping, gatherings, having to continuously warn our children they might get coal in their stockings if they don’t calm down and be-have! We’re bombarded with the world and the bombs being launched, social unrest, natural devastations, and evil. I can’t get off my mind the killing of 26 Christians while they were worshipping our God as a man comes in and guns almost half of them down.
How can we have any hope or peace in this crazy world, especially in the weeks to come when it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”? Sometimes, especially during this holiday season, hope and joy feel like they've run dry in a desert with no sign of an oasis. It makes me think of Job in the Bible when he raised his voice and cried out in distress and desperation, “Where is my hope (in this crazy world)? Can anyone find it?” (Job 17:15) His spirit was crushed. He was in physical and emotional pain and now was pretty upset with God for allowing all these really hard and difficult things to happen to him.
God heard Job’s cry. He hears the cries of the loved ones of, and the victims in, the church shooting. He hears my cries and yours too as we sometimes feel frantic, overwhelmed, stressed or heart-broken. And that’s why He sent HOPE down to us. Hope that heals. Hope that comforts. Hope that restores joy. Hope that triumphs over our hopelessness.
On Christmas day, God gave us the gift of Hope. Imagine and believe this:
All of the angels lifted up their voices, And filled the night with Hallelujah's, God is with us now, Everyone come and join the heavenly chorus, Our Savior King is here before us, All to hear the sound The song creation sang When Hope Came Down, So let us sing Redemption Song, Let us worship Christ the Holy one, We were lost, but we were found, When Hope Came Down, When Hope Came Down. (Kari Jobe)
And you know – we don’t have to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the gift of hope just on December 25th. We should celebrate Christmas and Easter every day! Let's be thankful for the hope Jesus never stops giving us.