I watched my children playing in the garden yesterday morning; carefree, full of energy, laughing and playing. So different from how I often feel myself this time of year... battle-scarred and weary... exhausted and desperate for peace. Weariness versus rejoicing? This advent season, usually diary-loaded, shopped-out and event-busy has left me feeling more crippled with fatigue than ever before. The usual Christmas busyness, complemented this year by a double dose of Christmas productions and parties, a four-month-in pregnancy and a huge building project, not to mention a seemingly endless run of winter bugs, has meant we have been super-busy and I've literally been jumping from one project to the next. My little blog has been very much neglected, and while I feel sad about that, it's OK. Our priority right now is keeping three little people fed, watered and happy while the Christmas chaos unfolds around us (or perhaps more accurately, in our midst!)
And yet there has been a sense that something is profoundly wrong this year. Because busyness prevents us from being still... From waiting... From remembering what advent is really all about. Instead of teaching my children the joy and anticipation of the coming of Christ, I have been scooting them along from one thing to the next, jumping between Christmas craft evenings, Choir rehearsals, school productions, Christmas parties and long, boring shopping trips to town, pausing only for our evening opening of the advent calendar, where another figure is added to our nativity scene.
The world is weary... That is truth. And it's a truth my children need to see... The world is broken. While I still protect my little ones from much of what is going on in the world, they know that suffering is real, that people around the globe do not enjoy the comfort they do here in our little corner of London. Weariness, even in our saturated, materialistic culture is rife... And in desperate need of joy. This year, 2016, tragedy has struck our world in heart-breaking and shocking ways...
And that is why that old carol strikes a chord with me...
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...
Isn't that what we all long for at Christmas? Hope and joy? And yet, so often, it seems just slightly out of grasp... So much expectation and anticipation often leaves us exhausted and disappointed.
If we pin our hopes on the perfect Christmas dinner, or a harmonious family gathering, or a dream pile of presents, we will have hope disappointed this Christmas... Those things cannot curb our weariness, cannot give us lasting joy.
But Christ? He can. Because that baby, born in an outback barn in an overcrowded city, visited by scorned shepherds and a bunch of mystical foreigners; that baby, chased out of town by an angry King, brought up in a backwoods village called Nazareth, that baby grew up to become the Saviour of the world... A Saviour who brings peace and joy and hope to my own life, even in the midst of turbulent circumstances.
So we're slowing down this week, We're making time amidst the chaos, making sure we don't get drawn into stressing about last-minute shopping and whether the Christmas cookies have been baked.
Taking time to stop and remember the one who brings hope and joy to a weary world.