Bunny and I were on the way to the store last night, and both of us commented on how the same Christmas lights that seemed full of joy and anticipation just a couple of days ago seemed lifeless and frankly tacky now.
The tents that had held the Christmas trees that families bought and took home to bring some of the sights and smells of Christmas were empty, and were being converted to sell the New Year's fireworks so many down here seem to enjoy.
For some, this past week has been pretty hard.
Harriet and Bill Standifer will bury the remains of Harriet's sister and her husband Monday. Both passed away tragically last week, Harriet's sister on Christmas Eve. A pastor friend of mine, Keith McNamar, up in Connecticut lost a one month old nephew yesterday, the child of his brother who has had some real issues with family for years, and been estranged from them and from God.
So this is Christmas?
Yes, and not yet.
Yes, we celebrated the coming of Christ last week. God moved into our neighborhood. But people still hurt. Loved ones still die. Christmas is still a mixture for many of joy and pain - present or past.
But friends, all the presents that Christmas promised have NOT been opened yet. Like this one:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."5 And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making everything new!" Rev 21:1-5
There's more coming. More of the Kingdom of God. More of the way God originally designed things to be. Just like those childhood memories some have, where a gift is found hours after all the others were opened, God's final gifts haven't been unwrapped... yet.
So for those of us who hurt, those of us who mourn, there's hope. God hasn't forgotten us. God hasn't said "No" to our cries for help. We are NOT hopeless. He's going to make all things new. He's going to take away all the pain, personally wipe away all the tears, banish death once and for all.
Just not yet.
Until then, we have this promise - "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."
Heb 13:5 (NLT)
It is that gift we should open everyday until Christ comes again. And we should give each other the love that God has given us, to help each of us get through the "not yet" time we live in today.
Grace and peace,