Love songs fill the air this time of year. “All I want for Christmas is you,” and “I’ll be home for Christmas” remind us of heartfelt yearning for people and places that touch our lives. Billie Holiday’s bluesy “I’ve got your love to keep me warm” rejoices that “no matter how much it may snow, I’ve got my love to keep me warm.”
That is the power of love. It can warm our hearts and calm our anxiety. Love can make us feel safe and cherished. Love is transformational – it can encourage us to do things that we might not otherwise dare to try.
We celebrate love at Christmas – God’s love for us as well as the love we share with others. Yet Christmas is more complicated than a Hallmark movie; “happily ever after” can feel very elusive at times. Harsh realities remind us that many are struggling during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
What if your loved one is sick? What if promises of lifelong love ended in betrayal or loss? What if your beloved is no longer living? December 14th marked the 7th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting that left 20 children and 6 educators dead. It made me think of people across the globe and close to home whose lives have been changed forever by violence. How do they approach a celebration of love while feeling devastated by loss?
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22nd, our church will celebrate a “Quiet Christmas.” This evening worship service is especially for those who desire Christmas’ peace and light but may not be feeling merry or bright. Whether someone is missing a loved one, wrestling with unemployment or financial concerns, addicted, estranged from family, or simply feeling out of step with endless loops of relentless Christmas cheer, this reflective service offers a time to simply “be.” In the quiet warmth of our sanctuary people can cry or offer prayers as they listen to God’s words of hope and healing.
That is also the power of love. Love accepts us right where we are. Love comes into our pain and reminds us that we are not alone. Love walks the journey with us. Christmas celebrates the love of God who came into darkness and despair to offer hope and new life.
This Christmas, if you are blessed with the company of those you love, cherish that. Pause. Give thanks. Rejoice in the love that fills your heart.
If you are struggling or sad, know that you are not alone. Love is eternal. Love doesn’t die. The power of love promises always to be with us.
Love can give us the strength to carry on, one day at a time.