Is it just me or has this past 12 months been a catalogue of one disaster after another – rising consumer prices, shrinking pockets, rising crime rates, waning civil liberties, increasing violence, worsening inter-religious relations, etc. etc.?
So much so that as Advent arrives quietly, marking the beginning of the Christmas season, I find myself torn between the devil and the deep blue sea. The usual suspects run through my head: “Is there anything to celebrate at all?” “How indeed to celebrate?”, etc. etc. The “answer” came in this seemingly absurd phrase: “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelations, chapter 21 verse 5). Which didn’t really help matters.
Until I found this poem by Ann Weems, who poignantly describes what Christmas really is and the greatest and most important reason why we should all celebrate it – no matter how miserable our lives may be. Indeed it’s to such wretched ones that the message of Christmas is most directed to:
Your burden is too great to bear?
Your loneliness is intensified during this Christmas season?
Your tears have no end?
You should lead the celebration!
You should run through the streets
to ring the bells and sing the loudest!
You should fling the tinsel on the tree,
and open your house to your neighbors,
and call them in to dance!
For it is you above all others who know the joy of Advent.
It is unto you that a Savior is born this day,
One who comes to lift your burden from your shoulders,
One who comes to wipe the tears from your eyes.
You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you.
Come Lord Jesus!
Note: Ann Weems is the wife of a Prebyterian minister whose son Todd died less than an hour after his 21st birthday. She has in the following years voiced out her pain in a series of beautiful poems. Her books can be found here and here.