I hope your Christmas Day 2020 was one that gave you some reason to smile, some blessing to count, or some love to give to someone else. We usually go out of town during Christmas but not this year. The family we usually travel to see are here with us. And aside from the hazards of COVID-19, our home just last week received the final repairs from damage from Hurricane Laura (now the yard is another story, but the house has finally been repaired). As you can guess, home repairs are costly, so we stayed home, which was fine.
Christmas songs have a way of touching our hearts in special ways. While there are lots of funny lists of the worst Christmas songs (I know what my vote is!), there are so many more that express our hearts desire in the most anticipated holiday of the year. Many artists have recorded the song Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. My personal opinion is that no one can touch Judy Garland’s performance in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis (link). It’s a wistful song that attempts to choose to have a merry Christmas when things aren’t so merry. This year I noticed some phrases in that song that particularly resonated with this Christmas.
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
With the advent of vaccines for coronavirus, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. We are looking at months before it has been distributed to a wide population. There seem to be many unknowns. Do we have hope that next Christmas all of this that we have been dealing with will be out of sight? Later in the song the writers suggest that, “Next year all our troubles will be miles away.” Our children and grandchildren will be hearing about this experience for the rest of their lives. We will re-live the moments when we couldn’t be together, when sick family members were in hospitals alone, and when the empty chairs at the table would remind us that we are now missing loved ones. It is easy to settle into a maudlin perspective that sees no hope. Christ, however, is our greatest hope. Whether it is next year when our troubles will be miles away or some other point in time, we know that Jesus will make all things right in His time. The Christian perspective is never without hope.
Faithful friends who were near to us
“Someday soon we all will be together” – at least that is our hope. Friends and family together during the holidays is what our hearts long for. That togetherness is the substance of the memories of Christmas past. Many families did gather today, in spite of warnings about the danger of households mixing. Everyone has to find their own path through this pandemic, so I do not judge you. But I do know that a lot of people chose not to gather in larger crowds. What many of us missed for most of this year is the freedom to spend time with friends without considering the presence of an invisible contagious virus. Maybe that day will some again. For Christians, there is hope of a grand reunion where no more tears or sickness will be a part of our experience. I know there are loved ones I long to see. As the death rates have climbed in our country (and in our world), many are missing their loved ones. I hope the message of eternal life promised by the blood of Christ will call to many people to follow Jesus.
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
This line doesn’t make into all versions of the song, but it is in Garland’s version. And it connects with me. We are going to have to muddle through somehow. To me that means that we will do our best. It may not be the perfect holiday celebration, but we will express love to one another, gather as safely as we can, call and talk to our loved ones, and remember the reason why we are having a holiday. As we move into 2021, I’m sure we will be muddling through in many ways but we will be moving forward. We never give up. Not when it hurts, not when we are tempted, not when we are confused, not when we are lonely – our Christian commitment will not let us give up. Jesus experienced the struggles we face. He was without sin, but He has understanding of the effects of these challenges on our hearts.
As we have made our way through Luke’s account of the birth of Christ at our church, I am struck by the nobodies. Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the Shepherds, Anna, Simeon … none of them are worthy to have something to do with the birth of the King of Kings, but God chose them. All of them were in some way or another experiencing isolation, troubles, uncertainty. The Hope of the World came to the nobodies – and that gives me such gratitude. As a nobody, I know now that God notices.
Hey friend, whatever you’re going through … however long the journey … when the tears fall and you’re just trying to have a merry little Christmas, remember that Out Here Hope Remains. In case you’re wondering, the only thing that really matters about Christmas is that you know that God thinks you are worth it. That’s the main message of the manger. You are deeply loved. Yes you.
Thanks for reading.