As I have mentioned before one of my favorite Contemporary Christian singers is Steven Curtis Chapman. Just a few years ago he released a Christmas Album called “Joy” that has become one of my favorites. On this album is a song called “Christmas Card.” The first time I heard it, I’ll confess, I thought this was a strange song to have on a Christmas CD entitled “Joy” because it is all about those who struggle and are hurting during the Christmas season. But over the years as I have listened to it, I’ve come to realize that it was probably one of the most profound songs he had on this CD. One of the verses says:
“For everyone who’s been left standing on the outside looking in
Everyone with dreams that never will come true
When the story of your life gets re-written overnight
Well, this is all part of the Christmas story, too
And I believe God knows and He’s right there with you”
This verse names a significant part of the Christmas message that we often overlook in the joy and beauty of the Christmas season.
In a season where family gathers, gifts are exchanged, and the world around us transforms with beautiful lights and color, we also know that there is more to the Christmas story. The Christmas message speaks into the brokenness, longing and pain of our world. For a moment think about Mary who is a key player in the Christmas story. Mary is an unmarried woman in a poor town with little significance and power. Yet the angel Gabriel announces that she has found favor with God and will bear the Son of God. Talk about being on the outside looking in—she was now going to be a social outcast. People would assume that she had broken religious law by becoming pregnant before she was married. Talk about needing to re-imagine your dreams for your life—she would raise a child that would be different from any other child, yet strangely similar too. Talk about your life being re-written overnight—she was going to be a God bearer remembered and honored by every generation to follow. This was the way in which God chose to come to be with us, in a way that was so messy and so true to the human experience.
There are many for whom the season of Christmas is painful time. Some struggle as they experience their first Christmas without a loved one. Some feel the raw pain of broken relationships. Some are burdened by the anguish of a sense of longing that is not being fulfilled. Yet at Christmas we receive a strange kind of good news through the way in which God chose to bring about salvation. It is like God is saying, “I know life can be hard, maybe even unbearable at times, but good news, here I am in the midst of all of that pain and suffering and here I will remain.” God came, in the form of a helpless, powerless baby from the most humble of places so that we would know that he is for us and therefore who can be against us. And later this baby would grow up and preach “blessed are the meek, the poor, those who mourn, and those who yearn.” So for those of you that are hurting this Christmas season, may you hear the good news proclaimed again this holy season that you are not alone and it is for people like you that love came down at Christmas. And for those of you who are filled with joy this holiday season, might you proclaim the good news of God Incarnate to all those who need to hear it.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth… From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:14, 16)