Hail to the Lord’s Anointed 3
He shall come down like showers
upon the fruitful earth;
love, joy, and hope, like flowers,
spring in His path to birth.
Before Him on the mountains,
shall peace, the herald, go,
and righteousness, in fountains,
from hill to valley flow.
I don’t know how you feel about the peak of the Christmas season into which we’re about to step. These days are always insanely busy for clergymen and clergywomen (and parents, I’m sure) the world over. So I always tiptoe into these few days, waking up with butterflies in the stomach and a strange mix of both dread and delight!
I don’t know whether you’re planning on gathering with loved ones (which has its own stresses) or whether you have the pain of being apart from those you love. The reasons for that can be manifold–yes, the pandemic and acts of cautious love, but also politics, divorce, death, arguments and pain of other kinds.
When I read the joy-filled words of today’s hymn, I read them with mixed feelings: I know they’re true and yet, I’m still full of pain and uncertainty, sorrow at the family we won’t see this year, frustration that Jesus has come to bring life and light, and flowers springing in the step, but that’s not how it feels most of the time. Christmases in the past have been times of hugely mixed emotion–gratitude for loved ones and being loved well–but also fears; jobs, stability, money, relationships and health have all come along for the festive season too, with all the confusion, sadness and frustration those things bring.
If you find yourself with a mix of joy and dread at the days ahead, that’s okay. Take these words and, instead of piling condemnation upon yourself that your Christmas is not the perfect joyful day you wanted, read them instead as a promise that by sending His Son to be with us, God has brought His presence to bring showers of joy. Notice His presence in those tiny moments: laughter instead of tears when you drop the ham to floor; thoughtful letters or text messages arriving at the perfect moment; a homemade gift from a child; joining your church family for worship; a friend choosing to make you their festive family; tender glances between lovers; or the thoughtful act of a neighbor.
God Incarnate does not make all things perfect, but it gives us hope that one day it will be and we get to see in part right now, if only we might look and see Immanuel–God with us–in so many tiny and extraordinary ways.