"Are you ready?"... to leave, that is.
Spencer turned and asked me this about 3/4 of the way through church this morning. We don't ordinarily just pick up and leave church like the way we did today, so let me explain.
Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and so Spencer and I went up to Baltimore, back to the church I grew up attending with my family and then to brunch afterwards. I usually love going there, and it's a great church. So, I thought this was a good idea because 1-we got to celebrate my mom's birthday, and 2- because the children's Christmas pagent was taking place at our church this morning and I just wasn't sure that was something I was going to be able to handle.
Little did I know, that what I was in for was a lot harder.
I've shared on here that it has been difficult for me into the Christmas spirit his year... the whole "holly, jolly Christmas" thing just isn't where I am. So when worship started and we sang nothing but Christmas carols, I was a little on edge. It probably didn't help that one of the worship leaders had a big pregnant belly. But, given the spirit of the season, it was something that I could sort of let roll off my back, an even somewhat enjoy.
The sermon started, and to be honest, this is where it went downhill, and for me, it went downhill fast. Just about every analogy made had to do with pregnancy and babies. I mean, I do get that... at the heart of the Christmas story is a teenage girl who is pregnant with the Savior of the world. What I had trouble with was over and over hearing phrases of us as Christians being "pregnant with possibility." And truthfully, it was a creative illustration and metaphor; but as a mother who just lost her son, it just wasn't working for me.
What I had more trouble with was when the "hardships" of the holidays were described as traffic at the malls and getting together with family that can sometimes be difficult.. and that we needed to "get over it." Because, of course, there are parts of the world that are far worse off.
Get over it.
Really? To the wife who just lost her husband as he was fighting in Iraq and for the first time won't be here for Christmas this year, she should get over it? To the man whose wife is fighting a terminal illness... and losing, he should get over it? To the mom and dad whose teenage son died in a tragic car accident last month, they should get over it? And to the moms and dads who have given birth to a child and have held them as they died just minutes, hours, or days later, they, too, should just get over it?
I acknowledge that we are a prosperous nation and that in numerous ways, we can't begin to imagine the hardships of poverty and disease-stricken countries in other parts of the world. That is absolutely true. But there's another truth of the matter and that's this: tragedy exists in America, too. Not just in the blatantly visible ways, but also in the hearts of men and women who are or have experienced deep, profound, and unspeakable grief.
And for those people, the holidays can be excruciatingly painful. For some people, the frustrations aren't with the trivial things like traffic at the malls, but with trying to reconcile who God is with the pain that He is allowing them to face. Trying to figure out what it looks like to have hope again in the midst of their grief.
Later this evening, though, I thought more about this question of "Are you ready?" So often we find ourselves asking each other this question in regard to Christmas, frequently referring to whether or not we've accomplished all the things on our to-do list... the decorating, shopping, and cookie baking.
But as I thought about it further, I think a better question in terms of "Are you ready?" is thinking about whether or not our hearts are ready to be reacquainted with the story of Christmas... the fact that we're celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world and the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity. Because of Christmas, we can have hope. Because of Christmas... the beginning of Jesus's life here on Earth, ultimately sacrifced as not just a ransom for many, but for each of us personally... because of those truths, I know that my sweet Isaac is safe in the arms of God.
I want to be ready to be reacquainted with those familiar truths in a fresh way this Christmas... and I'm getting there. Will you join me?