The Gift of Hope

Three bright-eyed children giggle in the kitchen. School has let out, and red and green dye cover their fingertips. A small bowl of blue icing stands ready to dote the angel’s eyes. Confectioner’s sugar finds its way into their blonde, tousled hair and graces the lengths of their eye lashes. It’s Christmas and the youngest is brave enough to remember carrots for the benevolence of Rudolph on Christmas eve. A fruit garland lays around the circumference of the chandelier at the kitchen table, filled with gingerbread houses made of marshmellow men that are toppling over. They race to the advent calendar each morning before the break of day to win the angel to the top of the tree where she belongs. It’s perfect. It’s Christmas.

 

Months later, the same three children sit on the hardwood floor. Still giggling, still covered in dye. For this, Easter eggs. The promise of spring after the harsh descent of winter. The fulfillment of hope after a frightening encounter with Good Friday. Here in the safety of the kitchen they color eggs, arguing over whose is the brightest, and wait for a saviour to rise on eternal clouds to prove external glory. It’s promise. It’s Easter.

 

It’s Christmastime again. And the tree is barren. A wool angel atop and the twinkle of white lights with few gifts scattered beneath the tree.

 

The news is not good by the world’s standards, but it’s something they have been hinting at much longer. And the world is separated from this baby. From Jesus.

 

To every season there is a time. A time for Christmas cookies and Easter eggs, long nights of teenagers and waiting up by the door, and the weeks at a time when children didn’t call. The time of sickness. There was time. There still is time.

 

And Jesus knew this most of all. He came to this earth with his time ticking the second he was born. From the very first acknowledgement of time, he realized how precious it was. And he rose to the occasion. He lived in agony of our sin and our betrayal his entire life, KNOWING the number of his days. And refused to waste them. He walked them out in perfection with his eyes maintained fixated on the Lord. And it was with this grace and gift that the agony of the cross was achieved. For you, and for me.

 

It’s with his eternal, unending grace in mind that I reflect on this Christmas season. And like Mary, ponder these things in my heart, store them up in the midst of a storm and pray to sort them out with the silverest of linings.

 

With that, my mother turned to me and said that she dreaded that it was this time, this Christmas of all times. But what better time? What better time to celebrate the coming of a baby SO seemingly insufficient and unexpected, but so perfect and so full of hope. What greater time is there to welcome hope? Maybe everything in life is going as planned, and you have no need or space for hope. Or maybe, you’ve reached the depth of the valley, and wrestle helpless. Saints and sinners alike, happiness aside, the greatest gift one can receive this Christmas is the acceptance and assurance of hope. The very juxtaposition of inadequacy and the Lord’s omnipotent plan. The admission of weakness and reception of a plan, swaddled in cloths and at first weak to the world. His very coming is proof of a greater love imaginable and the insufficiency of us all. And the sufficiency in a baby. That our weakness would be in him this is Christmas.

 

Everyone else may be having a party. But here, we are celebrating Christ. My most awaited gift does not come in a pretty package with a golden bow and tinsel tying the gift tag. He comes dirty in a manger, soiled and covered with straw, among the livestock. He enters the world in the still of a starry night, with no warning or expectations or announcement. Here he makes his grand entrance to the world, a world who’s burdens he will bear and people he will unendingly love. He enters into this world, lowly, welcoming us to his kingship. A kingship not comprised of rubies and crowns, castles and thrones, but of grace and mercy, hope and joy. He beckons us by entering a mess himself, a statement of his acceptance for all mankind. My gift is the reassurance that this baby is who he says he is, and that he endured the worst suffering possible in my place—separation from God. We’re taking Christ this season, a perfect timing of hope to a fallen and messy world. They may have the finest ham, and the most beautiful shoes wrapped neatly under their tree, a Yule log to go with Christmas dinner and gold plated napkins with cocktails. But we have baby. And He is enough.

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