Monday, 24 December 2012

O Holy Night


...A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...

Today marks four and a half years since we lost our sweet daughter. It is the fifth Christmas that we will celebrate without her. There is something about the holidays that makes me long a little more for my Leah. She would have been four this year, just a little younger than Tommy, and I know she would be anticipating the day with as much wonder and excitement as he is. And I'm missing it.

I'm weary from the missing, and from the longing, and the yearning. As the years go on living without Leah becomes more and more routine, and the freshness of the grief is long past, and the rawest scars have healed over. But the dull ache never subsides. The beauty of that ache is that it always reminds me how weary I am, and how much I need Christ to arrive. I need the new and glorious morn that he brings, I need his transformation and his new life.

...Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! Oh night divine, the night when Christ was born...

What hope the birth of a baby can bring. The freshness of new life and the mystery of God's plan for that little one are such precious gifts. How much more so when the new life bears the title Messiah, when he is the promised Holy One, the God With Us. I wonder how the Shepherds felt, as they sat in a cold field in the middle of the night and suddenly the night sky was filled with angels proclaiming to them that their lives would change, that the world would change, that Christ the Lord had come. I wonder how they felt five years down the road. How had this brush with the divine altered them? Were their expectations met? Did they feel let down?

This year has held disappointment for me. Did you know that we found out about Mom's cancer on the very same day that my pregnancy with Kenny was finally officially declared "low risk?" I never even had a chance to revel in the peace that that pronouncement brought. I had only a few hours to rejoice in that amazing news before my world went dark. I know Christ has come. I know his hope, and yet, I struggle. Even having experienced his beautiful redemption of my deepest hurts, I struggle when trials visit me again, when life fails my expectations, when my hopes are not met.

...The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need, To our weakness is no stranger...

Emmanuel means God With Us. This Christmas I am clinging to that name. God With Us. God on earth. God who was born covered in slime and gasping for breath. God who slept in the humblest of beds. God who experienced hunger. God who lived under oppression. God who walked among us. God who loved sinners, from prostitutes to tax collectors to Pharisees. God who lost friends and family members. God who suffered. God who died. But best of all, God who rose again.

Gods knows. He has experienced. Truly, these are tidings of comfort and joy. Tidings I need to hear this Christmas eve, when our activities sag a bit under the weight of our sadness. As we fight for normalcy and joy, the question "is this the last Christmas as we have known it?" lingers on the edges. We certainly hope that it isn't, but we don't know.

Christmas has not been the same for Jeff and I since Leah died. I know it hasn't been the same for Jeff since his Dad died, even before we lost Leah. As the years march on, we will repeat this scenario again and again with different people and different losses. At least we know that Christ did this too. God With Us has shared our pain.

....Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name; Christ is the Lord, Oh Praise His name forever...

At Christmas we long for peace. We long for all to be made right. For the promise that God made when he sent his son to see fulfillment. For our world to be restored. God's work through Christ is ongoing. There is more to be done, more restoration on the horizon, more redeeming work.

As I contemplate the birth of Christ, as I ponder the mystery of a God who fulfills the hope of generations by providing a baby born in the most inauspicious of circumstances, as I wonder at the oddness of God's strategies and his painful and strange and beautiful plans, I realize how inadequate my only response can be: praising His holy name.

I hurt. I don't understand. I pine for life to be different. I long for the end of oppression. I know that God With Us has done the same.

The miracle of a babe. The mystery of a holy night. Oh night divine, the night when Christ was born...

4 comments:

Karen said...

Amy, thank you for your beautiful and poignant stories.

Ellen said...

Amy, each time I read your blog it points me to our loving God. Your reflection is so precious as I think of the losses in my own life too. Thank you for sharing your heart and life. To God be the glory!

Laura Gifford said...

Beautiful, Amy. My love and prayers are with you and your family.

skybeltor said...

Thank you for having such an open heart Amy. Your words ring soo true and tugs at my heart and also fills me with joy knowing that when we go to heaven we will get to meet the littlest ones whom we never got to fully know. I am brought to loving tears reading this and, as always, praying for your whole support team..........The Cox Family. Xoxo See you next year sweetie. Xozo