Maybe this Christmas… #rethinkchurch #rethinkChristmas #Advent #hope

“I hope I get everything on my list!”

“I hope Cousin Vinny can make it this year.”

“I hope that Mom makes Mexican wedding cakes* again!!!”

Christmas is filled with hope.  We hope for important things and for small things.   We strive to make the season bright so that our experience with loved ones is special.  I think we all have this collective drive to make Advent feel different than the rest of the year because of the built-in message of hope that Christmas brings.

Where’s that hope stem from?  Babies bring hope.  They represent the future and that maybe things can be different for them.  We hope that they’ll make better choices than we have or continue to follow a good path set out for them.  At the heart of the Christmas story is a baby, full of hope for the world.  Even the most lukewarm Christian sees hope in the Baby Messiah.

Maybe this Christmas - 1 - 12-17-13I was spinning one of my favorite Christmas albums the other day, Maybe This Christmas.  Like most of your favorite Christmas albums, you probably have favorite tracks and skip over the ones that don’t interest you.  For whatever reason, I didn’t skip over the title track, written and performed by Ron Sexsmith.  (Stop giggling.  That’s his real name.)  The song grabbed me as it spoke about the Christmas hope we all want.

Maybe this Christmas will mean something more / Maybe this year love will appear / deeper than ever before

That hope Sexsmith is singing about resonates with me so much.  We always want the Christmas sentiment to last longer or change us somehow.  I always wish that people could learn how being just as generous and happy to be together as they are during Christmas would start to translate to the other months of the year.

Check out the next lyric–if it doesn’t grab you, maybe you need to scrape some crust off of your heart.

And maybe forgiveness will ask us to  call / someone we love, someone we’ve lost

That line immediately reminded of this time I once came to a family gathering.  As we were walking in, someone mentioned that they were nervous about how this was going to go.  Well, I had no idea that two of my aunts hadn’t spoken for a looooong time and this gathering was special because they would both be there.  [My cousins had tricked the aunts into going.]  When my aunts saw each other, their hearts melted.  And mended.  During the entire reunion, our family was filled with joy and hope that things could change between the sisters.  It was beautiful.

We have all of this hope because Jesus brought the hope that forgiveness between family members, friends, and enemies could win over resentment or hate.  Isaiah the prophet has this beautiful piece about the coming Messiah and what he would do.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

HOPEHope for forgiveness and love and justice and unity–this what Jesus brings.

What are you hoping for this Christmas season?  Is there a family member you need to reconnect with?  Do you need to choose humility and make a phone call?

Maybe this Christmas, how you love could be different.  Maybe it could alter how you live the rest of the year.

May the hope of Christmas wash over you and through you and fill you with love.

Maybe there will be an open door / maybe the star that shined before / will shine once more

Maybe this Christmas….

————————————————

*the most amazing Christmas cookies, tied for first place for my taste buds’ affection with frosting thumbprints

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About Brian Swanson

Christ follower. Screw up. Stained with grace. Ruined by Jesus.
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