Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The power of hearing "It's okay"...

I've written before that a Gospel word for me is hearing "It's okay ____." Another such Word came to me.  A pastor I so greatly admire for being so very pastoral wrote the following on his blog:

Have a Sad and Lonely Christmas

The beauty of Christian freedom is that your reactions, your emotional response to a time or season doesn't have to be the same as everyone else's. This is something that we can forget, especially as we start to think that our job as the Church is to make people happy.

Christmastime (known in the Church as "Advent" - but let's face it, it's Christmas Holiday Time to everyone else) is one of those times of the year where there is a big push to be cheery, happy, joyous. Again, that's a good thing - go have a holly, jolly Christmas!

But you know what? For some -- eh, it's not so holly-jolly this year. Maybe someone's gone. Maybe some family is coming back. Maybe it's sad and lonely. And no, I'm not just talking about Connecticut - I'm talking about for your friends, your neighbors.

One of my favorite songs is called "Another Lonely Christmas" by Prince. It's a wonderfully sad love song... and a fine reminder that there are reasons why the canned, packaged emotions that are being sold this time of year... well... they aren't the only emotions in play.

If life has turned that way - let people taste the bittersweet, and don't try to pretend it away. Rather, give comfort... because sometimes the deep joy (not happiness... joy is not happiness - joy is knowing security and love even in the face of the junk of this life) stands out mainly in contrast to the sorrows of this life. There are times we don't want a sappy sweet bouncy Christmas... we want to see Jesus stepping into this world of sorrow, even the very real sorrows we have. We want to see the first coming of Christ and remember the second coming when we will be delivered from these sorrows.

And that is good too.

Although written last Wednesday, I only just discovered this Gospel message for me on Saturday.  If I have read it once,  I have read it a dozen times.  And I have shared with with several others for whom I knew it would be sweet, sweet Gospel as well.

I wrote to Pastor Eric Brown to thank him. His reply was just as sweet ... the honey of Christ on my tongue: Take care and be well my friend - and have a Merry Christmas... merry not because of worldly hoopla, but merry because Christ Jesus has come and you are forgiven, redeemed, and an heir of eternal life in His name!

Laugh at me, if need be.  It's okay.  But the sweetness is that in reading his reply, I suddenly realized that I could have a sad and lonely Christmas and yet still also have a Merry Christmas!  Yes, I really did need those dots connected!

Perhaps another way to put it is that the blog entry and the reply are two sides of the same coin, a joyous, merciful gift from my Savior, who gives His own riches beyond measure.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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