There is something about this season that has a weightiness to it. I don’t mean a seriousness. We work very, very hard never to be serious in our world today. No, I mean a weightiness, that we are weighed down by many cares and worries.
In my own congregation we are weighed down with death. The deaths may be recent, they may be more distant, but it seems as though death is in the air right now. Who will not be at the altar this Christmas? Who is no longer among us that has been here for it seems as long as there has been a church? The list is longer than usual.
Seven years ago yesterday my wife and I lost a child in the womb. His name is Emmanuel. Four years before that, we lost a child named Nadia. While the grief of these losses is distant, their cry seems to echo through the years, and I hear them even now.
But it isn’t just death that weighs us down, it is the effects of death. It is what the ancients would call corruption. There is distance in families that shouldn’t be there. Love that grows cold. Hearts that harden at the sorrows of the day. There is an uncertainty, a hesitation about the future. What will happen tomorrow? How will I survive? Must I brace myself for another onslaught of grief and heartache? Is there no end to what we must face in this world?
That is the weight of December. That is why the days are so long, and the nights even longer. And no among of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol can make it all go away.
But there is One who will lift the weight. Jesus Christ is the one who comes into our flesh and blood. Christmas is about how our Lord takes on the frailty of human flesh so that we can take on the hope of the divine life. It is a strange exchange, that is for sure. But it is very real. Christ our Lord raises our humanity up by taking it into Himself. This is why we pray on Advent IV:
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
As you pray, and wait, and fret, and worry, and scurry through this holy season, be of good cheer! Your suffering will come to an end. There is a resurrection for you and me, and for all those who are in Christ. The future is bright, because it is in Christ.