Still Christmas

Christmas is over, leaving behind the remnants of wrapping paper scraps hidden under legs of furniture and the usual weariness that follows post-holiday. My belly is confused at its remaining fullness and tightness of my pants after a mere three days of rich food and celebration with family, and I’m actually looking forward to eating vegetables that aren’t part of a casserole.

My kids made me proud these past couple of days as they expressed gratefulness and excitement over their presents–exactly what every parent wants to see on Christmas morning. Today we enjoyed a day of playing and building and reading, but tomorrow I foresee a little more ‘normal.’ Laundry for sure and mopping the floor, perhaps, interspersed with Lego guidance and Bey-blade battles.

As I transition back to normal, the hollow stillness that accompanied me prior to Christmas waits again. I had never been profoundly affected by a tragedy prior to the murder of those 20 sweet children in Newtown, Connecticut, but since that terrible Friday, my mind consistently thinks of the victims, the loved ones they left behind.

Perhaps I’ve cried because I am a mother, one of my children in kindergarten, another in first grade, and I see firsthand every day the innocence of children that age. Whatever the reason, for the first time I felt the weight of evil in this world. I saw the loss of innocence for all those children who were instructed to close their eyes as they left the school building and all of us in this country as we wept for them.

As the days went on, I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the season. We were preparing to sing, “Joy to the World” and proclaim “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace(E) to those on whom his favor rests” while our hearts felt anything but joy or the promise of peace. How could such darkness, such evil live among us, and how could the words of Christmas ever speak truth?

I thought of the little babe come to save the world, entering among blood and sweat and his mother’s cries as those 20 children left the world the same way. And for the first time I felt darkness surround me and a stillness about my faith. I didn’t sing for joy, and I couldn’t feel the peace.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

I didn’t question ‘why’ so much as ‘how.’ I knew my theology and believed it–still believe it–but what comfort could Christ offer any of those grieving parents? Aside for the hope of eternity, what could he do to remove the darkness now?

So I didn’t write. I grieved with the rest of the country. And I thought about Christmas.

Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day

And the more I thought about Christmas, the more I realized it was exactly the point. From the moment Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, God knew He would have to save us. The paradise He created for us was now tainted with sin, and we would forever feel the consequences. We can pass more regulations over who can get guns and what types (and I think we should), but we will never rid ourselves of evil. When Cain spilled Abel’s blood, he demonstrated the evil that dwells within us all.

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray

Yet God still wants to save us, so we celebrate Christmas. We praise God that this mess is not our home. And we acknowledge that our feelings are appropriate–sadness, despair, hopelessness–because this world is fallen. This mess was never supposed to be. And we wait. We wait for the Savior who came as a newborn child and died as man to come once again and end our misery.

We look for glimpses of Him to remind us of the goodness that awaits–the love that we feel for our children, the satisfaction of a warm meal, the wind whipping through the trees–promises of a new creation where we will cry no more. But in the meantime, we can cry, for the pain is real. We can celebrate Christmas and the promise of joy, and we can return to our routine.

And we wait. As we look for the good, we wait.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Save us from ourselves.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy