I had intended to write my family’s official Christmas and 2007 Year in Review letter today. But, as it turned out, there was no time. It was an emotionally draining but yet, hopeful day on this Christmas Eve. I will eventually get to the letter at another time.
Early this morning, I received word that the young couple in our church who we’ve been praying for some time had lost their baby. Their son was born prematurely in the 24th week and three minutes later, the baby past away. With heavy hearts, Minhee and I spent this afternoon with this couple to mourn and grieve with them and to offer a word of hope.
The Hope I speak of is not one that I share lightly or flippantly in response tragedy, pain and suffering. This Hope is the one testified in the gospel of the Scriptures and embodied in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Hope is given to us – again and anew – in this Christmas season - in the Birth of Jesus Christ. It is a Hope that passeth human understanding…Hope that cannot be separated even by death.
Our church, Quest, hosted our first ever Christmas Eve service tonight. Honestly, I didn’t initially have the energy or motivation to go and was skeptical since we weren’t expecting too many folks to show. But when 7pm rolled around, I was stunned to see nearly 200 people walk through the doors. I had no responsibilities tonight but to simply welcome people and extend Christmas greetings.
As the hour gathering progressed, I was immensely thankful for the profound joy of expressing hope in COMMUNITY. Hope for healing. Hope for mercy and compassion Hope for justice. Hope for the end of human suffering. Hope for peace. Hope for the end of global poverty. Hope for reconciled relationships.
Hope for the return of Jesus.
After the service, I was surprised to run into JL and his mother. I wrote a brief blog entry about them and the tragic loss of JL’s father. They had trekked down all the way from Bellingham…with the hopes…of worshipping and celebrating the birth of Jesus…in COMMUNITY.
I shed more tears today on Christmas Eve than I had ever imagined and ever hope to. But today, probably more than any other Christmas season before, His presence was evident. It was ”good” because it was shared in community.
Build up, enjoy, nurture, serve, and love your communities - whoever and wherever they may be. Merry Christmas.