Not long ago I commented aloud about how grateful I am for our dishwasher. With all the demands on my time and energy it’s wonderful to get dishes cleaned with minimal effort. And then it broke- from one day to the next- just like that-even the dishwasher repair guy said there was no hope for it. Ohhhh the emotions I felt!
The pioneer in me wanted to rise to the challenge and smoothly integrate dishwashing 5 times a day into my housekeeping routine; the frazzled mom in me wanted to cry at the thought of fitting one more thing into my schedule. Suffice it to say, both options have had their time on center stage. It’s been hard at this time of year, with all the baking and festive cooking, to see those piles of dishes asking to be scrubbed, rinsed and put away. They vie with the mountains of laundry and teething toddlers for my attention. This is not how the Christmas season is supposed to be, I wail. Isn’t it a time of peaceful evenings sipping egg nog and gazing at twinkling lights?
It seems foolish to bemoan housekeeping troubles when inflation is the highest it’s been in nearly half a century, nations are locking down their citizens, and job loss is imminent for those unwilling to compromise their convictions. Humanity across the globe is suffering. And yet those major concerns and many more somehow magnify the minor ones under my roof. And somehow in my desire to make this season memorable for my family it becomes more chaotic than ever. I work so hard to make the meaning of Christmas the focal point of our activities and yet it seems to vanish in the effort. What am I missing, I wonder.
But then the Christmas story nudged my brain- the full story- the story that told of light and darkness, of hope and despair, of immense gain and tragic loss, of belief and doubt. Jesus was born into a country that didn’t govern itself, into an impoverished village to a teen mom. He was welcomed by both shepherds and kings, heralded by angels and hunted by a murderous ruler. Christmas is a time of contrasts; it doesn’t wait for the perfect Hallmark setting; it arrives in the midst of the stress as a beacon of serenity and promise. If I wait for perfect peace and harmony in order to celebrate this holy season, I will wait in vain. Jesus came into this chaos-ridden, storm-rocked, love-starved world to restore, to calm, to fulfill.
Ezra 3: 12-13 reminds us of the contrasts in those significant moments: “Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, because the people were shouting with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”
I really believe that this season can have both tears and laughter and still be beautiful. We can still acknowledge the darkness and celebrate the light. We can keep things simple while being reverent. We can celebrate a King who understands humanity.