Christmas is one of the most joyous times of the year. Yet Christmas brings a mixture of emotions. For Christmas evokes memories. Memories are a mixed bag of joy and sorrow. The joy can be tempered, if not overwhelmed, by the continuing pangs of grief, of family conflict, of illness, or some other struggle and tragedy of life. For many, Christmas is a time when they can relate to the words of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament book of Lamentations. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me” (3:19-20).
With life falling apart around him, the prophet lamented. the weight of his emotional load did not lighten. Conditions for him did not improve. Yet he remembered something which gave him hope. Remembering he found strength with which to carry the weight of his suffering. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The familiar words of the apostle Paul encourage. “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). God’s love is always with us. God’s presence is with us. The conditions of life may cause us to question. Our awareness of God’s presence may falter. Yet, through the apostle, God promises his love is always with us.
“Let every heart prepare him room,” the old song implores. We clean out our hearts. Room is made for Christ as King of our hearts and lives. “Joy to the world,” we sing. The joy of Christ lightens our hearts. Then the heart begins again to become cluttered with anxieties, fears, grief, temptations, and the list goes on. Christ is crowded out or shoved into a corner. Joy is hard to find.
Then we remember. We remember the birth of Jesus, God’s love come in the flesh. He came, we remember, to offer himself as the sacrifice for our sins. Yet Christ conquered the grave. He conquered the darkness. He lives. He reigns. Through him God gives us life, light, and hope. Remembering we again begin to clean the clutter out of our hearts. We struggle to empty our hearts of all that hinders our faith. The struggle is real. Remembering we sweep aside all that seeks to squeeze out Christ. We once again make room for Christ, for our King, and for the hope he gives us. His joy fills our hearts once again. We remember God’s love never fails. His compassion, mercy, and love are continually new and fresh, always present.
We struggle with the weakness of our humanness. The weight of disappointments and losses often seems too heavy to bear. Yet we remember. So we keep trusting God. We keep hoping in Christ. Even in the midst of sorrow we are able to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
(Picture source: ibtimes.com.au, December 25 2015)