Christmas: Chaos and Hope
You may not have noticed that my last two essays dealt with Chaos.
We are in the holiday season, that period of the calendar which includes Thanksgiving and Christmas. It comes around every year, and every year we can be (in fact usually are) in different emotional places. Life happens. Life’s twists and turns, life’s chaos, does not take a holiday break.
The holiday season intensifies emotions for many of us. This year, for me, it seems like the world is in chaos. This year, for me, it seems like the world hates Jesus more than it has in the past. This year, for me, in the face of chaos and hatred, I am struck by how more Christians are sharing their faith, their hope in Jesus, amid chaos.
The above paragraph feels intense. It does not have the sentiment akin to the taste of a Christmas cookie. I hesitated to share those words because they do not feel or sound very Christmassy, at least per Hallmark standards.
Yet upon reflection, Christmas, Chaos, and Hope go together.
The obvious chaos is that which Mary and Joseph endured. It was not simply the journey to Bethlehem, it was the months leading up to Jesus’ birth, all capped with a manger experience (and a soon after flight to Egypt).
The chaos I am reflecting upon is the chaos in the human heart.
The amount of chaos varies in each heart.
I know that this “variation of chaos” in a person’s heart has a wide range. I want to acknowledge one end of the spectrum with two stories.
First is a young girl who, with her grandmother, knelt at her bed and accepted Jesus into her heart at age 5. She was raised in a Christian home, had great parents, teachers, and other adults in her life. Her childhood was surrounded by Jesus. There was a time at university when she had “to make her grandparents and parents faith, her own.” To be clear, her young life had very real challenges, but it was not riddled with chaos.
Second is another young person who was raised in the church. The church was part of a major denomination, one that did not, from their memory, preach about the need for a personal decision. As they grew and matured, they found themselves in a Christian support group that was focused on them knowing the day and time they accepted Christ into their heart.
They did not know the day and time. The groups conclusion was, therefore, that they were not a Christian. They were confused and devastated. When I met with them, I had them tell me about their childhood and young adult life. I remember them saying, “Pastor, there has not been a day I can remember that Jesus has not been in my life.” I thought wow, could I say that? So, I simply asked them, “So, today, who is Jesus to you?” They answered, “He is my Savior, he died for my sins. He is my Lord, I seek to follow and obey him.” They went on with a further confession of faith. I explored whether they had a true understanding of “it is by grace we are saved” (Ephesians 2:8-10) and other Scriptures. They did. I reinforced that if today they know these truths, then they are saved.
I share those two stories because perhaps your walk to Christ is similar. It is not marred with trauma and chaos. If that is so, then praise God!
For many, the path to Jesus, is on the other end of the spectrum of chaos.
And here I need to make a biblical turn. We do not walk to Jesus; He comes to us.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we were dead in our trespasses. Dead men and women are not walking anywhere. In those two stories shared, there was a moment they realized they were dead. There was a moment they realized Jesus has arrived in their lives. They responded and received Jesus. There had to be that moment, because today they both confess Jesus as Lord. They both have learned biblical doctrine and been baptized. They both have Hope in Christ.
Whether you find yourself with Jesus amid chaos or peace, He did all the walking. He did all the work.
Which brings me finally to chaos. His work always stands out among the chaos of the human heart.
Certainly, His birth is an example of coming to us amidst chaos – bringing hope.
Remembering His birth is not enough.
Many have stood apart from His birth and simply gazed. Many have stood apart from His birth and heard of the shepherds and the host of heaven singing. Many have stood apart from His birth and noted that order was brought to humanity – and in all of it, Hope was born.
Standing apart and seeing, or hearing, or taking note, does not bring an individual hope. Some people this Christmas find themselves in that position, of standing apart, of being outside His birth, outside of Christmas.
The chaos in their lives, the chaos in their heart, seemingly increases the distance their gaze must cover, even when they are surrounded by the scene. Their ears are straining to hear the angelic choir, even as the church music blares. The witness of other’s lives changed by Jesus, seem to bounce off of their numb bodies.
The chaos is simply too much, clouding their vision, stopping their ears, and deadening their bodies.
Take heart. He comes amid chaos. In fact, it is those of us who are blind, deaf, and dead that Jesus comes to save and bring hope.
If the chaos of your world seems too much, perhaps you need this Christmas more than you realize.
The reality is that for each and every one of us, this is not about only a moment, it is about following Him every day (John 12:26) – and all of us have days, weeks, and seasons, when amid chaos, we need Hope.
May this Christmas, whether we be surrounded by chaos or peace, be a Christmas where we experience Jesus coming to us and bringing Hope.