Next week we will make our way to the manger and marvel at the little one lying there. We do this every year, but this year, of course, is different. We will sit at individual creches in our own homes.
Our year has been one of darker days as a silent virus has ravaged the world. Over three hundred thousand funerals have been officiated in our country. Over three hundred thousand chairs will be empty next week. It’s a heavy time.
We use the phrase, “the holidays are upon us,” and most years it’s with anticipation. But this year it’s more like our breath will fade away from under the heaviness of it all.
Jesus was born in a heavy time of history. Oppressed people. Corrupt government. An insane king who wanted the baby boy slaughtered.
Jesus was born to an unwed teenager. He was born in the midst of animal noises and smells. He didn’t have a nurse to bathe him and check his APGAR scores. He was born with the weight of the world upon his tiny shoulders, though he knew nothing of it yet.
His parents had to get him out of town, so they became refugees in Egypt. Other baby boys were slaughtered by the corrupt king. There were funerals. Heaviness.
The manger is the place we gather every year at Christmas. We gather with joy and with hope for the future. We gather knowing God is with us. We go to church and sing our favorite carols. We end by singing, Silent Night, Holy
Night, as we raise our lighted candles to heaven. We sing with others, so that if our voice falters, the song is still sung.
We hope, we pray, we believe. Our faith brings us through the darkness. Our faith lifts the heaviness from upon us. The voices near us pick up the song when we can’t sing. And there will be some who just can’t sing this year.
Some of us will have to sing on zoom next week. Or, we will have to sing along with Frank Sinatra, Josh Groban, or the King’s College Choir. The holidays are upon us. And feeling alone may be the heaviest weight of all.
So, dear friends, let’s reframe this year. Take heart. God is here. We have the means to lift each other up, even if it’s only through FaceTime. Perhaps the holidays are not upon us, but around us. The voices of family and friends around us. Cards, gifts, kind and hopeful words around us. Hope for brighter days, future celebrations, and no more virtual hugs, but real arms around us.
The way a young, unwed mother wrapped her arms around her baby boy, perhaps remembering what the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”
She didn’t have to be afraid anymore. She wasn’t alone. She was able to breathe. And on that silent and holy night, the heaviness of the whole world lifted.
Please remember, the tiny baby we worship next week, became the man who healed broken minds, broken spirits, and broken hearts. He takes the pieces of our lives and puts us back together again. He walks us out of the dark places. We breathe again.
May God bless you and relieve any heaviness you bear with the Light of the World who shines forth from a straw-filled manger.
Let’s meet there next year.