Stress and frustration will always be
identified with 2020. They also marked a time 2,000
years ago during the days of Jesus’ birth. Not much
today beats the stress and frustration levels of
Imagine: Does the idea of a pregnant peasant
teenage girl stress you? We have one. Do the broken dreams of a
young engaged groom with a fiancé who is pregnant (not his child)
frustrate you? We got one of those too. Does an unexpected long trip
riding on a donkey for no other reason than a senseless political
counting of the people push your buttons? It’s here. Does an inn
keeper who points an expecting mother to a barn out back feel
insensitive? Shame on him! Does watching someone being treated
poorly, rejected, and outcast like the shepherds, bother you? We
have those. Will a powerful, corrupt evil King like Herod, who has
the murder of children on his “to do” list make you clinch your
teeth? We also have one of those. Can’t you feel it? The stress and
frustration of this story is off the charts. And yet…
There beneath a shining star a baby will enter our world, the angels
will sing, the wise men will kneel and HOPE will be born. We’re told
we can’t live without HOPE.
It would seem, as pointed out by my wife, that I have too many
clothes. Too many shirts. Too many jeans. Too many old clothes that
don’t fit anymore still hanging in our closet. When asked why I keep
clothing that doesn’t fit, I told her I still had HOPE of wearing
them again…someday. She chuckled. She doesn’t share my optimism.
With a soft smile and a playful pat on my hiney, she says, “Okay
honey!” Shame on her!
We need HOPE like we need air. A world without HOPE is too much to
face. 2020 almost broke us. It was on the very edge of “Lord, you
asked too much of us.” We’re all so hungry for something good and
HOPEFUL to come next year that maybe we should have a eulogy for
2020. Let’s have a public funeral. A community wake. Let’s bury this
year and move on to the next.
Before we do, consider: we celebrate the birth of
Jesus during the darkest days of our year. When days are the
shortest, when sunshine is the most limited, we look to the birth of
Jesus. Why? Because it was in the darkness we needed a great light.
It was when the world was as divided, as cruel, and as broken as our
world is still today that we needed the HOPE Jesus brings.
In the middle of one of the most stressful and frustrated stories
one can imagine, a baby was born. He would change the world. He
would become a household name. He would bring HOPE to us once again.
The name of Jesus has been a light to a dark world for 2,000 years
and he is the key to our HOPE in 2021.
Stop. Do it now. Ask Jesus to be born anew in our hearts and in our
days to come. If you have Jesus, you have the HOPE you need to break
out of this darkness!