Screenshot from the video for “Snow” by Sleeping at Last
The day before December began, my grandma slipped into eternity. She’d spent 100 years here on this globe, and was ready to see her Jesus face to face—and for that we are filled with joy. But we will feel the lack of her. We will miss her guidance, her prayers for us, her love.
The next day marked the anniversary of an accident seven years ago that took a beloved friend and mentor from this earth. It was the start of a hard Christmas season. One where tears held their own against joy and laughter.
It was the start of a year of sorrow followed by sorrow—a year that changed my whole life in many ways. A year that I can look back on now with a measure of joy, seeing the hand of the One who shapes all my experiences with His grace and mercy, but a hard year, nonetheless.
There are pieces missing from my life now which were all comfortably settled in place just a few years ago.
I could say the same thing about a cold, snowy January day almost nine years ago. And another one the year after that. And a hot, humid July day twenty-one years back. I’m certain many of us can point to those days—those periods or moments—in our lives when everything changed, when the bruises formed for the first time, when we began to carry our burdens, when the cracks fissured our hearts.
And Christmas is a time when those bruises, burdens, and cracks tend to lose the veneer we’ve washed over them for the rest of the year. Some of us have families who we can honestly share our burdens with. Some of our families are the source of those bruises. Some of us have found communities of friends that have helped heal our broken hearts. Some are still seeking them.
But, somehow, we still enter Christmas thinking perhaps this year will be different, this year will be the year we’re far enough from the hurt not to feel it anymore. We look to January first as a new page, a new opportunity to try again.
Since the moment I first heard it, I’ve been struck again and again by Sleeping At Last’s song “Snow.”
The branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves
All warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
Scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees
Christmas lights tangle in knots annually
Our families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
But our bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow
So we sing carols softly, as sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We’ll welcome December with tireless hope
We humans are a people of hope. In light of everything that has happened in the course of human history, it seems a bit foolish. Why would we hope when we know that every life ends with death? Why would we hope when we see broken relationships all around us? Why would we hope in light of violence, war, famine, or nature’s destruction?
We hope because we are made in the image of God. We are a broken, fallen people, and we are offered wholeness and restoration.
We hope because the Son of God came to earth one Christmas and fulfilled His calling:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” –Luke 4:18-21, ESV
He came to this earth to partake in the human condition and to overcome it. He came to share our broken hearts and to make us whole. He came to rewrite the world.
May your December be filled with hope. May you remember who you are: You are unconditionally cared for by One who shares your scars.
**The song “Snow” is available as part of Sleeping At Last’s Christmas Collection Vol. 1, from Noisetrade.