Updated: Dec 8, 2022
If there's one thing about Christmas, doesn't it always stirs up longing and anticipation in our hearts?
The anticipation of the celebration of things that make the season memorable....
For me, it's the reading of the Christmas story and a new Advent devotional, singing familiar lyrics, the lights in the neighborhood and, seasonal decorating around the home, especially the fireplace mantel, and the table(pictured below is my tablescape this year). It's something about the table and fireplace being gathering places for times with loved ones.
There's also a tree, and, although I enjoy giving or receiving a thoughtful gift, it just hasn't become the focal seasonal piece of our home.
I think of the whole Christmas season itself as the best Experience Gift ever, all wrapped in the one package that will never stop giving, because it's message of hope is eternal. Looking back on the year, maybe some of our stories carried disappointments, hard things and losses, along with the celebration of good and joyful things. How do we let hope grow in our hearts?
We can't grow that hope on our own, because we didn't plant it there in the first place. But we can look to the source of that hope, the central figure in the Christmas story - the One who came in the midst of loss, hopelessness and disappointment to bring light and eternal hope to our hearts. The hope that frees us.
I think of those trapped in slavery and the endless cycle of poverty who maybe can't even dream of hope this Christmas. I pray that as we join those who work to support them through rescue and dignified employment, we also will share the only Hope that is eternal and that can grow in our hearts in every season.
I'm ending with the beautiful lyrics by Charles Wesley that I've been meditating on this Christmas :
"Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel's strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne."