Last night and today I had the opportunity to visit my parents’ church in Birmingham. Both services had me in tears at least once. As I looked out over the congregation, many of whom I’ve known since birth, I saw many who were celebrating Christmas with the groans of creation.
There were at least three widows experiencing their first Christmas without their husbands, all well over 30 years. One mother, who has meant a lot to me since I was a teenager, was celebrating Christmas while her two sons were both away for the first time in their lives. There were cancer patients, others with various illnesses, and many who were, no doubt, tangled in sin. All these pointed to the painful truth that the world is messed up. But in the midst of despair and groans, the celebration of Christmas brings hope.
While much of our language, actions, and overall culture points out the loneliness of some, financial burdens of others, and dirtiness of sin in the face of light in many, Christmas should be a time of hope. There’s really no point in overlooking the sorrow, it’s a part of the human condition. We must, however, point to the hope of Jesus.
Jesus has brought hope, but he’s still bringing more. He brought hope that first Christmas morning when God laid in that manger. He gave even more hope in his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection three days later. He’s promised to return though and finish what he started. He’s coming back as our Warrior King. He’s going to slay the Dragon. We’ll celebrate his birth, death, resurrection, but sickness, death, and sin won’t creep in. We’ll be more alive than ever before.
As Christmas comes to a close, think about these things. The world as messed up. That’s why we’re going into the ministry. The Messiah came, though, and he’s coming again. So pastor the hurting, but point them to the hope to come.