Last night ties, suits, heels, sparkling jewelry, plaid shirts and carefully combed hair hustled through church doors and the Christmas Eve Haven was filled to overflowing. Even the windowsills in the auditorium were lined with families crunched together, young ones perched enthusiastically on knees, for an hour of Sacred Eve.
Minutes earlier, I had left my friends at a long-term care facility. They were spending Christmas Eve in a quaint dining room, most of them parked on four wheels with little ability to move. I had stretched Lindor Christmas chocolates to hands too weary and worn and feeble to clutch the sweet and soothing pieces being offered.
Milton Crum writes, “Almost any suffering is bearable if it serves a good purpose.” What if we can’t see purpose?
As I offered the shiny wrapped wonders, most of the residents’ eyes couldn’t recognize the candies – before slowly receiving the gift – they asked, “What is it?”
What is it? What is the purpose of this? … How often we ask …
In the desert, the Israelites wondered for years – they ate manna – Ann Voskamp writes, “Manna literally means ‘What is it?’”
They asked, and they chose to eat. And God was not angry with their asking.
At the Christmas Eve Service, the Advent candles danced with blazing fire. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. Christ.
Just as the residents believed I was offering something good, when we choose to see the presence of God infusing each moment, when we believe every wrapped instant is from His Good Hand– every imperfect moment and unforeseen instant is transformed – it is wrapped in Hope. Peace. Joy. Love.
Timothy J. Keller writes, “Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” – Timothy J. Keller
And at that Christmas Eve service, with almost a thousand lives squashed together, the fire touched the wicks. One at a time, light spread. Light spread to all – to the wee ones and aged, to the hurting and happy, to the weak and robust. The fire burned every wick and every life and every voice chimed of Joy coming to Earth.
Light changes everything. The wicks burned unquenchable. And even though there was no fire in that quaint dining room, His light lived there too. Especially there. In the unlikely lifting of weathered struggling hands to receive the wrapped gifts.The unshakable choice to receive God into your imperfect moments, even when you are asking, “What is this?” allows for hope, peace, Joy Love and Light to flood. And the Light of the world changes everything for every outstretched hand. Merry Christmas to all, God is with us.