“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matt. 1:23 NIV)
I absolutely love this time of year. From the decorations to the lights to the baking, it all makes me smile. I love to surprise my family with gifts. I love to remember that person who might otherwise be forgotten. The songs are cheerful. Everything sparkles. What’s not to adore about this time of year? With all of that, I still find my heart to be incredibly heavy.
As always, I’m going through the motions. I’m buying the gifts, making the plans, doing all that we normally do. But at the same time I’m a bit sad. I’m not depressed. I’m not overwhelmed, there’s just a feeling of heaviness these days. Over the last few weeks it seems there has been story after story of heartbreak. There are marriage vows that have been broken. An accident resulting in a death has devastated a family. And last Friday the terrible tragedy that happened in my home state of Connecticut has the whole country mourning. My heart breaks for all concerned.
I wondered how can I possibly be joyful this time of year when there is so much sadness around me. What is the point of celebrating when so many are suffering? I supposed it’s like this every year, but this year everything seems to be hitting too close to home for me.
A couple of years ago, my daughter came home from school and told me about a book her teacher read. It was about a mouse that climbed the Christmas tree asking the ornaments what Christmas was all about. One said it was about the decorations. Another said it was about family. A third said it was about presents. The mouse climbed to the top of the tree and asked the angel the same question. The angel told him it was about a baby.
I think the reality of that has penetrated my heart this year. Without the birth of Christ we would have no hope. There would be no anticipation of reconciled relationships. There would be no promise of heaven for those who have passed. And there would be no comfort for those left behind. Christmas is the fulfillment of a Savior who would not only make a way for us to live for eternity, but would also walk with us through our darkest days.
…”and they will call him Immanuel…which means God with us”