I think it’s important to be honest: I am not exactly looking forward to this season of celebrations (otherwise known as “the Holidays”).
I don’t feel guilty in saying that. It is to be expected. We are bringing to a close one of the hardest years of my life. In so many ways, 2017 has not been my favorite year. But I will hold off on that reflection a little longer – it’s not New Years quite yet.
But we are on the cusp of the Celebrations Marathon: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. And with it comes navigating all the wonderful ways of celebration that come with it. And don’t get me wrong, they are all wonderful ways of celebrating! And I DO look forward to that.
But I am tired. Weary might be a better word. Going to church itself is both life-giving and draining. I come home exhausted. Because I have come from God’s presence felt in a unique way and heart-work can be exhausting! Just ask anyone who has been in therapy.
And so the thought of encountering an onslaught of places of worship and thought-provoking, heart-stirring environments that come with this season of celebrations does sound a little exhausting to me.
On the other hand, it is these places and times of worship that are filled with such Hope. The celebration of Part One of God’s Promises Fulfilled as we await with longing for Part Two. The intimate corporate expressions of worship and longing, full to the brim of hundreds and thousands of years of waiting by hundreds and millions of God’s people who have waited.
Yes. THIS is a season of coming together and expressing ourselves with a unique unity that crosses boundaries of time and history, to cry out with that multifaceted voice: “Emmanuel! He has come! And He IS coming again!” There is no other time in the world when even the voices of the world sing the song of the ages: “Joy to the World, The Lord Has Come!”
And so, beginning with Thanksgiving, and then ushering in with Advent, Christmas and New Years, I pause, for this brief moment, writing under my small little “front porch” tree, to take a breath and breath in His goodness in all the ways His love is expressed. And I anticipate His goodness to continue, according to that great promise: “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Even when I am weary. No, ESPECIALLY when I am weary.
And how can I be grateful, as we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving? Well, the Lord has given me this to reflect upon: loss, in whatever form it comes in our lives, creates a unique opportunity to see more richly how much we have been given in Christ. For loss exposes the frailty and finitude of our lives on this earth, thereby making more rich the eternity of Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.
And so in this, I am grateful. Grateful for Christ. Grateful for the way my losses has softened my heart to better receive the riches of His love for me.
“For we look not to the things seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.