There's no crying on Christmas!

It's Christmas morning! We're mid-way through our presents with music and smiles all around when My son starts quietly singing, and suddenly tears begin streaming down my face! 

I love the Christmas season! Advent, Christmas, Epiphany--waiting, celebration, worship-- I'll take the whole season, however you slice it. 

Maybe this is true for you too, but in my work life I experience a lot things that are broken: trust, relationships people. The brokenness takes on as many forms as there are people who visit us. I see it in the faces of people who come to NETWorks for food from the pantry because their cupboards are bare. I see it when neighbors come for help to pay the rent or keep the lights on because of a layoff, or poor planning, or a compassionate decision that cost them dearly. I see it poignantly when they come with no home, nowhere to go, no plan, no hope. It breaks me. Every time. 

I see brokenness when people of means speak scornfully about low-income neighbors as if they are lesser. I see brokenness in myself when I don't protect my own boundaries of work time vs. off time, when I don't successfully find places of restoration to refill the emotional and spiritual energy expended in the course of the work, when I allow judgement or contempt to replace openness and receptivity, when I am more eager to speak than to listen. 

I face this brokenness often in myself and with the families who come to my office. Because of these regular encounters with brokenness, or poverty, that all people experience regardless of their economic status, I crave resolution. I want to fix all these broken things. 

The prayer of Advent, "Come Lord Jesus," resonates deeply.

"Come and make all things new. Come and heal the mother whose illness is draining all of this family's resources. Come and remedy the joblessness that perpetuates this father's instability. Come and comfort the child whose parent is incarcerated. Come and give strength to the grandparent who's raising a new generation on a social security income."

And yet it is into this broken reality that Christ speaks, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Really? Here? Hmm...

Sometimes the already/not yet mystery of Christ's presence in the world is the only comfort I can summon. Thankfully, young Mary's song reminds me that all is not as it seems. Even before the Christ child's birth she proclaims God's faithfulness,

"Your mercy reaches from age to age for whose who fear you. You have shown strength with your arm; you have scattered the proud in their conceit; you have deposed the mighty from their throne and raised the lowly to high places. You have filled the hungry with good things while you have sent the rich away empty. You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, mindful of your mercy--the promise you made to our ancestors--to Sarah and Abraham and their descendants forever." Lk 1: 30-33

And after much anticipation and preparation--the slow journey of pregnancy, the pain of patience in waiting--Christ is come. It's Christmas! And as Mary, a child, rejoices in what she has not yet seen, I rejoice in the confidence that God is indeed at work. Now. Making all things new. 

Those who sit across my table with hopeful expectation of a solution that I cannot provide, receive resolution. Those who come for food are filled. Those who do not perceive the beauty in their kinsman receive sight of the Imago Dei. Those who dole out judgement receive grace.

This morning as my family opened gifts, BarlowGirl's mashup Carol Of The Bells, Sing We Now Of Christmas began playing in the background. I sipped coffee absentmindedly until my six year old son started singing along. He had learned the words for his school's holiday program

Sing we now of Christmas Noel sing we here
Sing our grateful praises to the Babe so dear
Sing we Noel the King is born Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas sing we here Noel!

His little voice unleashed a torrent of emotion I had bottled for months. Once again a child's song proclaiming the Lord's faithfulness.

Hark how the bells
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say
throw cares away.
Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold.

A message for all of us--no matter who we are--"throw cares away. Christmas is here." The song continued to crescendo as if the beat of the music was also beating the message into me.

Ding. Dong. Ding. Dong. 

One seems to hear words of good cheer 
from everywhere, filling the air
Oh how they pound
raising the sound.
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale...Christmas is here.

Ding. Dong. Ding. Dong. 

On on they send,
on without end. 
Hark how the bells
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say
throw cares away.

As silent, unexpected tears began streaming down my face, an unknown burden was unexpectedly released.

It seems I am not expected to be the world's savior. I can't fix everything. But the one who can, is. God is already at work. Perhaps I should stop trying to bring perfection and simply join the celebration that proclaims God's faithfulness in the midst of the mess. 

Sing we now of Christmas. Sing we here Noel!

Christmas is not a celebration of a manufactured make-believe world where everything is perfect. It is an acknowledgement that this world is broken. It hurts. A lot. And still...Alleluia! 

Christ is born. Christ is making all things new.