With Christmas just a few days away, I cannot help but think about the strange times in which we live. It is not every day that you can sit in your office listening to songs with themes of peace, joy and goodwill, while also reading news updates about the partisan impeachment of the President of the United States, but this week provided just such an opportunity! The darkness of a political machine out of control against the backdrop of a holiday meant to provide comfort and inspiration can be difficult to put into context and makes them both seem a little out of place. I would suggest, however, that dark worlds and seemingly hopeless times are the exact reason the savior of Christmas came.
Consider the world of the first Christmas-and for those that like to argue I am referring specifically to the birth of Jesus that we now celebrate on December 25! This was a world of extreme political division. The Roman empire controlled with an iron fist all that took place within its vast realm and the nation of Israel lived in political exile. Slavery and bigotry of all kinds was rampant as was the persecution and murder of those who dared to speak out against their oppressors. The wealthy and powerful were the only ones whose voices would be heard, while the average person had no voice at all. This was a dark and hopeless time to be alive, and yet it was at this moment that light would pierce the darkness and hope would find its way into the hearts of those so desperate for something more.
Hope-it is a great word that we like to use but have a hard time defining. Hope is nothing more than an understanding that the mess I am in today is not all that there is. It is the not yet realized truth that there is something more, bigger and infinitely better than the darkness that seems to overwhelm me. Hope is not fantasy but is a fact only understood with a clear mind and a vision for what will be.
When Jesus was born hope was given because, at least for a moment, those who had been living in darkness and oppression were reminded that this, what they were living through, was not the end. That God did love them and care for them and to prove it sent His Son! It is in the darkest of days that the light is most clearly seen and most profoundly needed. This was true on that first Christmas and it is true today.
Which brings us back to the angry/impeachment/political hatred/Christmas season of 2019. Add to all these things any personal struggles you may be having and this, right now, can seem like a dark and hopeless time. A time where it’s easy to conclude that the end is near, and nothing will ever get better. Where hopefully you can hang on long enough to get to the new year but believe in your weary soul that next year will be at least as bad as this one.
We need Christmas now more than ever! In the age of the great political divide we need to be reminded that this is not all there is. That as dark as this feels, especially with the screaming and disagreement that happens on social media, all is not lost. We need to be reminded that there is something, someone, who is transcendent and not confined to the mess we currently observe around us. We need to grab on to the truth that what this day actually represents is that God is bigger than your situation or the politicians that want to control it and that He demonstrated how much He cares by sending His Son Jesus to make it possible for us to have a relationship with Him.
There is no doubt we live in strange times, but these times do not define our future. Because of Christmas, because of Christ, there is hope, and no one can take that away!