Read Psalm 80:1-7
Yes, Christmas is coming. It is less than a week away. Yes, Christmas is coming. We will gather together and rejoice and be glad and celebrate this festival with our family and friends. Yes, Christmas is coming. The fulfillment of all hope, the very fulfillment of our salvation will be born to a carpenter, his young wife, and the whole of creation in a stable for there was no room at the inn. Christmas is coming. Christmas is coming.
Christmas should be a time of hope and joy. Yet, I wonder if it also is a time where we cry out to God, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we might be saved.” We should be dancing and singing carols of the glorious things that God has done for us, yet we know the bread of tears as we confront this joyous holy day without a loved one yet again or for the first time. We should be laughing at one another’s jokes and stories, yet there are people who will be struggling to find food and water for a day which looks too much like any other day struggling for the bare necessities for life. There are many people who face this coming season with these fears and sorrows, and maybe it just might be true that we all face doubts, uncertainty, fear, anger, and sadness, at least maybe a little while we are rejoicing in the glad tidings of Christmas coming.
I read that psalm to you today in part because it was the alternate reading set before us this day. I read it because it stands in stark contrast to the beautiful and hopeful Song of Mary that we did read together. It is a song that speaks of the hard things that we all do go through in our lives, but it also a song that gives us permission to cry out to God in our sorrow and ask for the help that we truly do need. Mary’s song is a song extolling the goodness and righteousness that God has done in bringing the justice and love that we need. I read this other psalm to you today, our life comes with the reality that we experience great joy and great sadness in our days here on earth. I read this psalm today, because it gives voice to the tension that God brings us joy and life and love, yet the reality of sin and death is ever present within our world today.
We live in this tension between joy and sorrow, and it is okay to do so. It is okay to cry out to God, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” If we deny the sorrow and suffering of our lives, then we deny the gracious gift and love and that the Father has shown us in sending his only Son so that we might be forgiven and live united in his death. If we deny the joy that has come and is coming to us from the fruit of Mary’s womb, then we deny the truth that God has power over the suffering and death that our sin causes in our lives. This tension between joy and sorrow is a part of the story that makes us to know that God is real and that God loves us more than we could ever possibly put into words.
Yes, Christmas is coming. It is less than a week away. Yes, Christmas is coming. We will gather together and rejoice and be glad and celebrate this festival with our family and friends. Yes, Christmas is coming. The fulfillment of all hope, the very fulfillment of our salvation will be born to a carpenter, his young wife, and the whole of creation in a stable for there was no room at the inn. Christmas is coming. God has heard our cries, and God has given us great joy that we will be restored, that we will be saved. Christmas is coming.