Last year about this time I was preaching for the Blue Christmas service held at a church in a another city. It’s one of those services where the church gives a nod to the fact that not all people are merry and bright in this season. It usually feels like the object in the Highlights puzzle: Which thing is not like the other?
As often happens, as I was preparing my sermon I learned something new. Or at least, new for me. I realized that while these service usually feel like the out-of-sync-with-the-season add-on, the ones who gather for them are actually the ones for whom Advent resonates most deeply.
Who better to hear stories of light than those who walk in darkness, whether it’s the darkness of depression or loss or a hundred other shadows that invade our lives? Who better to hear promises of being led through the wilderness to home than the ones who feel like they’ve lost their way, who feel as if they are living in a strange land? Who better to sing of hope than the ones who have to go looking for it every day because it’s not on the nightstand where they left it?
Who better to wait for a coming than those who have seen too much go from their lives?
If you are among those Advent people then know that this time is really for you. Even if you feel more darkness than light, more sorrow than joy, more fear than fear not, God comes in flesh for the likes of you. And me. And all of us.
Do what you need to do to get through the season. It may mean holding treasured traditions tight or it may mean doing something completely different this year. Or it may mean taking a pass on festivities altogether. You may need to take a break from parties and revelers. Or you may need to find meaning by helping someone else, be they two legged or four.
Do what you need to do for you, holding to the hope of the hope of the light that will yet outshine the darkness.