Christmas is happy, right?
If we judge by the months of build up and the amount of money spent, Christmas is undoubtedly the biggest celebration of the year in the United States. It’s a time of parties, gift-giving, and happy songs. Sometimes, however, when we are still and listening, we know that Christmas is also a time of deep sadness. Most of us can look back at a Christmas when we were depressed. For me it was the year after my divorce. My daughter was at her dad’s, and I was too broke to travel anywhere. I was living in a tiny second-story apartment with neighbors below me who liked their rock music loud. I’ve had sad Christmases since then, but that was the most painful.
The Christmas story most of us think of is the one Matthew and Luke tell: the story of Mary, Joseph, and the baby. But John’s Christmas story isn’t about a family; it’s about light and dark—light the darkness can’t put out. My favorite part of Christmas is a candlelight Christmas Eve service. That worst Christmas I was too exhausted to answer the question “How are you?” Instead of going to my own church, I went to a Christmas Eve service at a church where no one knew me. I was confused and depressed, but the moment the stranger next to me lit my candle from hers, I knew wasn’t alone.
I don’t understand why God allows suffering. I don’t understand why divorces happen to Christian couples. What I do understand is light in a dark Christmas. But don’t listen to me. Listen to John.
In the beginning
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
2 This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
3 His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
4 His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
5 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
That’s what Christmas is about for me—sad or happy doesn’t matter. What matters is light in a dark world, light the darkness can’t put out.