It's time to begin Christmas decorating and festivities, but my heart is heavy and I don't feel very celebratory. News of a family in crisis, a tragic plane crash, unemployment, and miscarriage have filled my e-mail inbox this week. I ache for these dear people. How can I get in the holiday spirit when there is so much wrong in the world? How can I celebrate with my children when so many people are brokenhearted and hopeless?
But then I remember the two messages the angels gave at Christmas. First, the angel told both Mary and the shepherds, "fear not!" Don't be afraid of the glory of the angels. Don't be afraid of the task before you. Don't be afraid of the future, or of what might happen. Don't be afraid of the sorrows of this fallen world. The Prince of Peace is here.
And then the angels told the shepherds that Christmas holds "Good news of great joy for all people." And what good news it is! All of the bad news in this world pales in comparison to the great joy of the incarnation. Christmas isn't just for people who are happy and want to celebrate. It is perhaps even more for those who sorrow.
This babe in the manger is also the Savior, the one who redeems even the worst tragedy and comforts us in our sorrow. He is the one who wept at the grave of Lazarus and promises us that all things will work for the good of those who love him. He is the one who came to save us for eternity and holds all of our tears in a bottle while we're waiting for that eternal perfection.
So maybe it's appropriate that my thoughts are filled with heavy burdens during Advent. Perhaps I need to be reminded of why Jesus came. If the world were perfect and happy like a Christmas-card picture all the time, we wouldn't need a Savior. But life is messy, and we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior.
And so our loving God broke into our fallen world to bring us peace. He became a helpless, impoverished baby so that he could save shepherds and kings and everyone in between. He came for the husband trapped in pain and sin and for his abandoned wife. He came for the mother who's lost her child and for the man who's lost his livelihood and identity. He came for the bereaved and heavy laden. He came for the people who are full of happiness and wonder this season and for those who are hopelessly sad. He came for you and for me, in all our joys and sorrows.
And even better than that, he's coming again to make all things right again. Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus.