I don't know when I started mourning every December, but I think it was the year I learned that Jesus wasn't the only reason for the season: I was too.
And that staggering truth, more shocking than the moment I learned as a child that Christmas wasn't about me, it sat in me deeply. Hunched in my heart, crouched over in heaviness because Christ came that we might have life, but who has need of life if they are not dying.
And I was dying.
I was dying.
Friends wept over the Passion film that came out almost a decade ago ago, but me, I wept over the Nativity one that followed. I sobbed through the birth of a child born in poverty, wrapped in clothes fit for a pauper, and laid beside the animals. I was broken on the floor of a friend's living room. I mourned.
Years go on now and the truth is that the heaviness doesn't go away, friends, the heaviness only grows deeper, more gnawing. While others are scrambling for perfect gifts and holding fast to joyous traditions, I mourn. Most of my mourning is selfish, but all of it is because of sin. No one's in particular, but mostly my own. Sin breaks, what other need for saving have we? Who swoops in to the scene to fix something that is not broken?
More than that, who swoops in in lowly places, in squalor and loneliness, to fix something that is broken beyond any repair?
Emmanuel. God with us.
My comfort this season is that God is not a God who came to the rescue. He is not a God who brilliantly hatched a plan or scrambled to find the perfect gift for His children. He did not swoop in to glue together brokenness. He is a God who is with us.
Mourning with those who mourn. Me, for sure.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice. You, perhaps?
But with us.
Always has been.
Always will be.
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!