Christmas day will soon be here and with it comes an array of emotions for Christians: wonder, gratitude, hope, and loving kindness; also worry, regret, and longing—sometimes gut-wrenching longing—for restoration, peace, forgiveness.
The Christmas “season,” as it’s called commercially, emphasizes emotions like joy, peace, and happiness while hushing allusions to suffering, pain, and loss.
But the true Christmas season for those who welcome the Christ child embraces all emotions because in the celebration of the birth of Christ we remind each other—and the whole world—that the light that shines in Christ promises that the love of God is in us and among us.
Simply said, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:9-10)
The gift of Christ is the freedom to receive God’s love even when there’s darkness in our souls, even when hope eludes us. The very purpose of the light is to lead us to God.
It is by grace that we renew ourselves to following the light of God every Christmas, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, every time we breathe a prayer. Gerald Manley Hopkins breathed such a prayer for us in his poem Moonless Darkness Stands Between.
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
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