Christmas: Good news for a tired world

 

Last updated 12/19/2023 at 10:27am



Merry Christmas to the people of our wonderful community here in Sisters Country. Just a few short weeks ago many of us gathered for the Christmas parade and the definitive marker that it is now officially Christmas in Sisters Country — the lighting of the tree at Fir Street Park.

As our community ushered in the joy and excitement of the holiday season, I found myself asking some deeper questions that many wrestle through, especially those who aren’t necessarily feeling all that “Christmas cheer” due to the pressures of this time of the year.

Many in our community feel like life has lost its luster and some struggle with the questions of meaning and purpose. Still others with the pain of loneliness, grief, and loss. Has the idealism of your youth faded? Does the wonder and awe of the Christmas season seem like a distant memory for the naïve, hopeful child you used to be?

Far too many of us feel the nostalgia of the Christmas season as we watch joyful children at the parade, but life’s surprising twists and turns has a way of turning the hope into skepticism. We can’t let ourselves get too excited; who knows who or what might fail us next? Or perhaps you’re simply paying attention to the world around you. Wars, rumors of wars, rising animosity between people groups and political entities in our own country and community.

All of these stressors can bring a fog of fatigue.

Right in the middle of the crisis we hear the Christmas hope breaking through in the words of the Christmas hymn “O Holy Night”:

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...”

Nobody knew this weariness, this darkness, and this cynicism more personally than Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor who wrote a Christmas devotional from his prison cell in 1942. Bonhoeffer watched as darkness swept the land, hatred and racism destroyed nations, and the horror of the Holocaust happened before his very eyes:

“And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all…”

The wonder of Christmas can be restored, but we will have to correct our blurry vision. We will have to have our assumptions challenged, our perspectives poked, and our modern sensibilities questioned. We will have to begin to open up again to the possibility that there is a good and gracious God at work in ways that are not obvious but nevertheless real and meaningful. Christmas is the miracle of the love of God coming to a broken and tired and needy people. The Christmas message is simple yet incredibly profound. The Christmas message is that God so loved the world that he gave us his Son, Jesus Christ, to come to the world and die for the sins of people like you and me.

Christmas wonder, joy, and hope can be restored this holiday season, but these transcendent gifts will not be accessed through the latest Hallmark film, the perfect gift under the tree or by just getting one more peppermint latte. Hope will break in when you begin to experience the awe and wonder of the great promise that we learn from John 1:5:

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I would like to take a moment and invite you to our church this Christmas.

On Thursday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m., we will host a special Christmas gathering called “Blue Christmas” for anyone who is struggling with grief, relational pain, or loss this holiday season. Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for those who feel alone. Please consider coming to experience God’s grace through this gathering.

We would also invite all of you out to one of our two Christmas Eve services on December 24. One will be at Fir Street Park (outside) at 4:30 p.m. on December 24, and the other will be at 5:30 p.m. at Sisters Community Church. We would be grateful and honored to host you.

Merry Christmas, Sisters Country, and God bless you.

Ryan Moffat is the Teaching and discipleship Pastor at Sisters Community Church.

 

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