a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
–O Holy Night
“…I do believe; help my unbelief…”
In the midst of anticipating Christmas this year, a funeral. She was an 18-year-old college freshman from Collin’s cycling community, struck by a car while riding her bike in North Carolina. She died ten days before Christmas. I met Megan only once, but Collin knew her. Attending a funeral for a girl just stepping into womanhood shocks the system with a forced focus on the aching fractures that exist in the world. The heart breaks, because what else is it to do? The heart breaks and the soul longs for a different story. We long for the world to be set right.
Reading the Scriptures and pondering the Christmas story following Megan’s death made me hunger for God who became man to meet me, to meet us here, now. In any untimely death the questions that come first are often why questions, but that’s not exactly where I landed. My questions arose from looking at the celebration of Christmas coming so soon after the funeral. How does this get set right?
My love of the Bible sometimes leads me, perhaps, to over-familiarity with the over-arching narrative. I forget to remember the significance of a God who came, of the word made flesh, of his life, of his death, of his resurrection. The Hebrew Scriptures foretold the story of a poor baby born to restore history, God swaddled in tattered rags, fully Himself in human skin. It’s a magnificent story, really, that God so loved, that God so gave. That we have life. The world left to it’s own devices is indeed weary. Without the Jesus story, our hope falters and fails.
Last night I prayed for grace and peace for Megan’s family and friends. May they know their loss and longings grieve God. I remembered the Jesus who wept before he raised his friend from the dead. Death wasn’t a part of the story when God made and called this world good. I feel wide awake to the reality that we need something, someone greater to come, to heal, to touch, to redeem.
And we have God, who humbled himself, who became like us, who came. And I don’t understand how it all works, but I do know this: we have great hope. And so I hope. Living that hope out here and now looks like grace and peace. It looks like food for the poor and wholeness for the hurting. It looks like love in the face of hatred, plenty in the hands of want. May we so live.