“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Really?
For many, Christmastime is marked by conflict, disappointment, and pain. Memories of loved ones no longer gathered around the table are stirred. The stress that can come with all the preparations, gift-giving, and attending of various parties can be overwhelming.
Depression becomes almost inescapable.
And in the midst of this activity and commotion we are endlessly tormented with words said and sung like:
- “Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la.”
- “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree have a happy holiday; Everyone’s dancing merrily in the new old fashioned way.”
- “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night.”
- “Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go? Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go?”
- “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose.”
- “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.”
Trite, cheap, empty words. (Do I sound like the Grinch?)
Did you know that the average person hears and sees approximately 105,000 words per day between emails, texting, social media, online entertainment, podcasts, Alexa, television, radio, books, newspapers, and etc.? I feel what the writer of Ecclesiastes said when he exclaimed, “Of the uttering of words there is no end. Constant subjection to this torrent of chatter wears a person out” (12:12, my paraphrase).
So why add to this deluge? Is there anything meaningful left to be said?
I believe so. It’s revealed in the Christmas story.
The “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. 1:14). The Word became one of us, entering into our situation, subjecting himself to the everyday difficulties and challenges of being human.
This is how God responds to the crisis of humanity—not with a lecture, a moral lesson, a sermon (heaven forbid!), . . . a bunch of words. No. He responds with a person. That’s what Christmastime is all about.
The coming of Jesus. God’s Word.
One of my favorite stories is found in the Gospel of John chapter 11. Jesus gets notice that his friend Lazarus is sick. He subsequently leaves where he is but not immediately. He delays. The result is that his friend dies.
Upon finally reaching town, Jesus sees everybody weeping and was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (v. 33). In the original language, the meaning is better captured, “He was mad as hell!” (lit., “to snort with anger”). Jesus was indignant. Rage welled up within him. Passion. Sorrow. Pain.
Jesus is then led to the place where Lazarus was laid to rest, and these words appear, “Jesus wept” (v. 35).
He sobbed. Bawled. Lost it.
That’s the word, the first response from God to death. No letters strung together to form constructs of meaning from ideas and thoughts tucked away in the brain. No pontifications. No oral presentations. No words. Just tears. Wet drops falling from the eyes rolling across the cheeks dripping to the ground.
And what was the reaction of the people around him? “See how he loved him!”
The Word became flesh and wept. That just might be what he’s doing right now among some of you with all your hurts. Weeping.
Christmas is a season when we look back and remember the first coming of our Lord, the living, weeping Word. The One who whose heart went out to the widow of Nain who had lost her only son (Lk. 7:11-17). The One who had compassion on the multitude because they were harassed and helpless (Mt. 9:36). The One who was deeply moved over a leper’s predicament (Mk. 1:41). The One who wept over the city of Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41).
Christmas is also a time when we look forward to his second coming. When he will set the world right. When he will be with us his redeemed and we with him forever. When he will personally pat and wipe every last tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:3-4).
A God who weeps is just maybe a God you can trust. Someone you can relate to. A God who truly cares.
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. Jesus has been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So go to him and get the mercy and help he is so ready to give.”