when a thrill of hope isn’t what you feel

it was a Sunday morning and settled into the folding chair I let the twinkle lights above illuminate the Bible pages. exhausted from the endings and weary from the year, getting to this place was a struggle for my end of the semester tired self. the first snowfall was fresh on the trees, coating the rooftops and the wondering places of our hearts.

the song King of My Heart was playing, with the echoing strains of You are good. sharing the communion meal, we remind ourselves that this is a tangible picture of the body of Christ broken, the blood shed. this was all done to bring a relationship forever, a hope beyond what we deserve. as my feet slowly found their way back to my seat, the words hit with intensity “You’re never going to let me down.” tears instantly welled up within, as my exhausted mind focused in on that truth, questioning if I really believed it to be true, and recalling the Colossians passage, that He is holding all things together. He is holding all of history together, as evidenced by His entering into our world on that Christmas morning so long ago, and He is holding my whole world together now, all the strands that are so complex and broken at times. this is truth worth resting in, especially in a Christmas season where all feels beyond control.


and in a year where you just haven’t felt it, you realize,

it’s okay for it to not feel like Christmas.

for those rich vibrant undertones of the season to not carry you away in their timeless joy, for the layers of the seasons to sit a little differently, a little heavier than before.

see every piece and texture and tone has been intricately layered this year, until it all combines to a picture your mind still can’t make peace with.

but you need to know that in the waiting, whatever you are waiting for, in the numbness of this season, there is hope.

and sometimes we forget what Christmas is actually all about and how that is more hopeful than our wildest dreams. because we try our best to fall into the spirit of the most wonderful time of the year and paint vivid dreams for the following year, but the realities creep in and every one we envision leaves us wishing for something more. Like Charlie Brown the eternal meaning behind the day gets lost in the shuffle and we need our Linus moment to reclaim it.

to let the truth push past the stream of feelings and sights and sounds that collide to equal Christmas.

to recenter on the arrival of the baby in a manger, the One who dwells beyond time and space wrapping himself in the form of humanity to bring hope.

to revisit your childhood, where each year when setting up the nativity scene at home there was always one important step. baby Jesus had to be set aside once unwrapped from the box and the figurine disappeared into your parent’s room. it would reappear only when Christmas morning came, and the daily questioning of “is baby Jesus in the manger yet?” turned into a game of anticipation.

and so we pray for the days that aren’t feeling merry and bright, for the thrill of hope we can’t seem to get ahold of, and for all we know we have to celebrate in this season.

Jesus, come enter in this heart in all the broken, well-loved, and too full, heavy places. until all is overrun by You, by what is enough. because 2017 has been the worst on many fronts and a trail of shattered hopes and long walks through deep waters is all my memory can recall. and I need peace to dwell. the hope of one day restoration.

but right now I just need something sparkling, insistent to cause me to face each light streaked gray sky. You came to bring a living hope to the displaced, the souls searching restless, a world unsteady and heavy, to face the mountains of doubt and fear and complacency in our lives. will we dare to carry our one small fragile light into the most desperate places, where hope isn’t named, just idealized in fantasy and wishes? will you give us the courage to do this, to carry the hope we know but don’t always keep in perspective? so that we can walk through this holiday season, as marked by grief and change and hurt as it is, eyes growing ever clearer as they fixate on that hope You bring.

for those not feeling it this advent season. for the heavy hearted, those who don’t feel like themselves and who wonder if the events of this year will ever stop haunting you on replay. and this is precisely why you need Christmas more than ever before this year. you can bring your broken heart because His presence is here and Immanuel came to be with us, welcoming you in as you are. a thrill of hope for the weary soul. this has been a year of treading on glass, of watching pieces of love shatter and cut.

it’s the most tempting and natural reaction in the world to just shut down. to refuse to walk through the dark and invite His presence in to the chaos. to just throw my hands up and refuse change. when all you know starts to fade and disappear, it’s easy to lose hope. but hope is the one thing that should never be missing from the picture. it’s what our lives have been built on and what this season bears, woven into every thread of the events. You hold all things together, You came for us, You are Emmanuel, and with that comes more hope than all we could wish for.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall by His word our darkness dispel

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Has banished every fear of hell

O Come, Thou King of nations bring

An end to all our suffering

Bid every pain and sorrow cease

And reign now as our Prince of Peace

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come again with us to dwell

so this Christmas season, if a thrill of hope isn’t what you feel, it’s okay. it’s okay to recognize that this year may not hold the classics and traditions and due to circumstances it all has shifted. but that does not mean we stop searching for that hope, that we don’t fight for it and celebrate it. because Emmanuel has not only dispelled the darkness and banished fear of hell, He will come again with us to dwell. we have a future hope, even when the here and now hope seems muddled. so we live our lives telling of this future hope, of the good news, the beginnings of peace that Emmanuel brings. and from our own brokenness, we impact others also broken, until we all find a little more joy in the roughest of Christmas seasons.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Isaiah 61.1

so here’s to a year where you don’t feel it and to the truth that still resounds despite that.

here’s to hope and it being okay to not feel it’s the most wonderful time of the year,


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