Joy to the Grievers

Today’s Devotional is offered by Haven Parrott

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me . . . to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them the oil of gladness instead of mourning.” Isaiah 61:1, 3b

I just wanted it to be over. December in general, that is, and Christmas in particular. The parties, the presents, the pressure – it all grated on my last nerve. The relentlessly cheerful greetings, “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays!” were painful reminders that Merry and Happy were faraway lands I could no longer access. My passport to those places had expired on the same day in late November of that year that my father had.

I wanted to sleep till January, or at least make my way through December with as little Christmas as possible. But church pianists don’t take December off, so avoiding the carols and candles was not in the cards. I slogged through rehearsals for the Christmas musical by concentrating on the notes while blocking out the messages of hope and joy which threatened to shatter my fragile armor and leave me in a puddle. By the time the performance rolled around, I was confident my emotions were sufficiently tucked away under a robotic determination to get through without a breakdown.

Only I hadn’t counted on there being a real live baby in the manger.

About halfway through the production, as if on cue, the distinctive wail of a newborn punctured the silent darkness, startling me out of my stoic trance. I looked up to see a tiny arm tentatively reaching out of the manger towards Mary’s face. The little fist unfurled like a fiddlehead fern in the warmth of the spotlight. A real live baby. God became a real live baby.

The message of Christmas – God puncturing the membrane between heaven and earth to be with us, as us, a fellow human griever – came crashing through my carefully defended fortress, leaving me doubled over in grief and gratitude for the implications of incarnation: God feels my feels.

That year, I wept my way to joy.

Prayer: Lord, you feel our feels. Help us to joy, even when we weep our way there. Amen