I have just returned from 2 weeks in
, what a wonderful time, as you may be able to tell from my previous posts. It was fun celebrating the purely American holiday of Thanksgiving on the other side of the earth, but returning home the first week of December I launched headlong into the “Christmas Season.” Thankfully, I accomplished purchasing most all of my gifts while there. However, shopping is not what is on my heart at this time. Rather I have been pondering the grayer side of Christmas, the side hidden from the lights and stores, but something I dare say most people experience. South Africa
Isaiah 9:2 “The people who dwell in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” With these words, Isaiah begins his description of the coming messiah. Many people know this verse as it is often referenced during Christmas. “For unto us a child is born…” another verse from Isaiah 9, known by many because of Handel’s Messiah. The Christmas story is filled with the physical darkness of night. The angels appeared to the shepherds at night; the wise men followed a star, something only seen usually at night. In each case, a great light split the night.
Each year during this time bell ringers from the Salvation Army greet us at the stores; there are many requests to assist those in greater need. I don’t know about you, but each year it seems to get increasingly more difficult to make ends meet at Christmas. It is a time when families gather, that is if you have a family to gather with or a family you get along with. It is a time when we are pressured to do more, more parties, more gifts to give, cards to send…etc. As most know, I am un-apologetically Christian in my beliefs and views. This stance however is not without its challenges for me. I attempt to ostracize myself from the world and pressures, attempting to ignore the news only listening to the weather (which in and of itself is a challenge.) Regardless of my efforts I am still affected by the looming “fiscal cliff”, the wars and turmoil in other parts of the world and the overall despair permeating our society. I must believe there is a bigger, better plan working out in the world or I would fold into myself, withering and whimpering through life. I must believe in the light splitting my darkness with “glad tidings of great joy”, in a star shining in the east, which I can follow and rejoice with “exceeding great joy.” I gain a bit of perspective on life at Christmas when I reflect on the shepherds who didn’t have a great deal of earthly wealth, on the political oppression in the land under Roman rule; Joseph having to take his very pregnant wife to register for taxation. I can take comfort in knowing the darkness, which overwhelms me today, is the same darkness that overshadowed the birth of Jesus Christ. I am blessed to have a family and close friends I can share this season with, but am still mindful of those who do not. I am choosing to look for HIS star in the east; to listen to the angel’s glad tidings and join with the heavenly host singing Glory to God in the highest, Peace on earth and not allow myself to be swept into the maelstrom of darkness so prevalent at this time. It is a hard choice, but one I believe I must make.
As always, this is my opinion and that and $2.50 may get you a hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night, blessings to everyone during this holy season.