Help me to escape the hollow.
Because this year the tinsel on the tree and the blinking fairy lights, and the bustle of the streets feels empty. Is this Christmas?
Whilst people hurry and get absorbed in festivities, Bana Alabed, the seven year old girl from Aleppo, is scared, and her Mum is questioning the silence of the world. Is this Christmas? I can’t find anything to rejoice in.
#Aleppo is blithely retweeted. Lives are prematurely ended. All I do is take a momentary pause before moving on, because it’s too much to cope with.
God, I want to celebrate that you came to be with us, are with us. But I need to be shown what that means in a way that doesn’t involve hand-carved Nativity figurines.
Direct me to the part missed out of the nativity plays- the slaughter of the innocent. The screams and cries of anguish we ignore when we read Matthew 2, an anguish that is written into scripture. Let me sit with that for a moment and try to comprehend it.
Remind me that the hurting world I see now is the same one you came into.
Remind me that in you is hope for our hopelessness. That Christmas is a poor Palestinian family living in an occupied country being forced to travel to their hometown by Imperial decree.
Remind me that you know the name of all those in Syria and Yemen who are heartbroken this Christmas by a despair they shouldn’t have to know.
Remind me that you are not just for the poor, but you are with them. You are with the ignored, with the illiterate shepherds of the field you invited to meet you that first Christmas.
Remind me that you know the chill of a manger, the worn out feet of those travelling by foot. Lord, that you are intimately familiar with the dark and the damp. That you know the mothers giving birth to illegitimate children, for they have always been part of the Christmas story.
Remind me that Christmas is about your care for injustice. That you came to be with us. Came for those that couldn’t hope to ever approach a throne. That you hear the desperate prayers of those hurting right this second.
Remind me that I don’t need to ignore the pain to rejoice in you, because you’re here in it with us.
Help me to escape the hollow and find hope.
The hope of those who would tremble to bow before the throne, being invited to stand before a manger.
The hope of an unexpected grace that comes not dressed in robes, but in swaddling cloths of rags and not riches.
The hope of a King worthy of heaven, making himself known to us by meeting us in the dirt.
The hope of Him amongst us, in amidst slaughter, hurt, poverty, and confusion.
The hope of an Easter to come, an Easter to end all our hopelessness.
Help me to escape the hollow and be your hope to others.
When my voice sings ‘Emmanuel, God with us’, let me hold to that truth in a real way. Let me act in a way that is faithful to your call to help those who you love, those who have lost hope, those with worn out feet, those fearful of what the future holds.
When I feel hopeless, be my hope.
Help me to escape the hollow.