I have been more aware this year of just how painful the Christmas season can be to people whose situations and circumstance make it not a very merry time. The darkness they face may be because of relational loss, estrangement, alone-ness, limitations, or the pressures our culture creates during this time. I am grieved on how much they hurt.
Our culture has made this season a focal point for this season the material and emotional soft spots of human existence. The emphasis is on the material. An illusion is created of perfect families having perfect celebrations. Television and movies may bring up struggles but they all seem to be resolved because of the spirit of the season. The problem is this is just not the case for many people.
Christmas comes from two words: Christ – God’s annointed and Mass – sacrifice. It is a time of good news in that God became one of us, God incarnate but it also a time for God to enter the world of the curse and death. Jesus birth brought sorrow and suffering (killing of the children in Bethleham). God knows the sorrow of this season.
The Church is to be a family of faith, a community of comfort. However, the church too is open to the seduction of the culturally created myths. It is important for the church to not only focus on the celebration but to be a people of empathy. It is important that we pray and put actions to our prayer to reach out to our spiritual family members for whom this season is a battle with soul suffering.
Advent is intended to be a help. Advent is not Christmas. Advent is the awaiting, the promise of what is to come. It is to remind the family, the church family of our future. As the the words to the song state: “No more cryin’ there, we are going to see the King.” Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.