The following is the short reflection/homily that I gave at our church’s Blue Christmas service this year.
Have you ever noticed that the holiday season tends to highlight whatever is most broken in our lives; our families, our bank accounts, dreams, friendships, and most importantly, our hearts. During this season so many of us feel inadequate, lonely, overwhelmed or just plain blue.
When things get hard I have noticed that people respond in one of two ways – it’s all Fight or flight. And this time of year is no exception.
You can usually identify the fighters by those who try a little too hard to glitz over the broken parts of their lives and hearts. These are the ones who will tough it out and put on a big, static, happy face. despite the desperation they feel in their hearts to be whole again. They will decorate the tree until you can barely see green behind all the ribbons and ornaments, they will buy too many gifts hoping to find the Christmas spirit in bestowing the perfect gift, and they will wear themselves out with the frenzy they create all around them as they attempt to create a perfect Pinterest holiday.
When asked how they are doing will always reply a little too brightly “I am fine!” Fighters are hard to identify because they look happy, and they sound happy, but underneath all the ribbon and bows and twinkle lights, it is a different story, there is an underlying cry to rest, to acknowledge what is hurting in their lives.
The flight-ers are the easier group to pick out. They are the Scrooges, The ones who dismiss Christmas as a silly commercialization of a pagan holiday. They bah humbug all attempts at celebration and merriment, and tend to avoid decorations and iced cookies altogether. Instead of joining in the opt out. Every time. But often even the flighters are more than just grumps. They are also broken-hearted souls, in need of an authentic Christmas spirit, and not just a dressed up, plastic-smile attempt at one.
Do you see yourself in these 2 descriptions? I know I do. I have occupied both of these attitudes. Often I swing between them both, creating a tornado of emotions that ends with me in a puddle of inconsolable tears on Christmas day. For years my husband said it wasn’t really Christmas until I cried – until that made me cry.
My question for us this year is this: What if this Christmas we didn’t give in to the temptation to Fight or Flight? What if, instead, this Christmas, we rested?
What if we were able to rest in God’s love, his hope, his peace and his joy?
What if we allowed him to light a small light inside our hearts, a light that will break the yoke of our burdens?
What if we celebrated the coming of Christ our saviour, in his goodness and his mercy, just as we are with our broken hearts, our broken families, our broken bank accounts and our broken dreams?
What if, this Christmas we didn’t pretend – either to be fine or to not care?
What if we just entered Christmas as we are, where we are?
What if we leave here this evening living out the words of Isaiah – as people who have walked in darkness but who have seen a great light? And what if we let that light lead us , flicker by flicker, to a place of hope, to a place where we rest in the knowledge that God is with us, and that whatever else Christmas is,it is light.
It is presence.
It is hope.
Merry Christmas Friends.
May you rest in it, just as you are.