The weekend before Christmas I attended a holiday concert. The band leader introduced one song, sung in another language, saying it was so sad he didn’t want to tell us what it was about. My spirit breathed in the still moment, lullaby melody haunting the sanctuary. It felt so right, that amid the songs of joy and hope and triumph there would be a few that take time to sense the sadness.
A little girl looks at the wise men figurines from the nativity set, and tells me part of the Christmas story. She says that the mean king wanted the kings from the East to tell him if they found the star-heralded infant they sought. He didn’t want to worship the Boy, like he said; he wanted to assassinate Him. And my little friend and I keep talking about the story, part we usually leave out of advent calendars and candlelight services: that though God’s plan went forward in the family exiled to
Egypt, many little boys were
slaughtered by Herod. As prophesied in
Jeremiah, Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted.
There is hope. And hope is terribly needed. The world is dark. Kings kill. Babies die. Sin persists. Faith wanes. The sadness is real. And hope belongs there. It doesn’t erase the pain; it sits with it in the dust, and then raises it up.
Jesus weeps outside his friend’s tomb, before He calls him forth.
I spend hours searching for Christmas laments. I am intentional about seizing the wonder and beauty and joy arising from this Light come into the world. But I relate to the burdening grief in this fallen place, sympathize with a bereft woman keening beneath the Christmas stars in
Bethlehem. Dear friends suffer also, personal events in
their own stories not so far away as the homeland of David. In Christmas there is a place for them, a
place even for their aching. I want to
look at it. I want to seek the whole truth
unshrinking, though on my weary knees - and see the God who belongs there,
To God be all glory.