In Which My Heart Longs for Christmas

“I’m scared Miss,” he said as he pushed his seat back from the table. His face was in his palms, tears racing down his arms. “I’m scared that one day this will happen, and I will be dead in the street for it.”

My kids are struggling, and I don’t know what to say.
There are no words for this.
I can’t breathe.

The past two weeks have been brutal. Unrelenting. Painful. And I wish you could hear their stories. I wish you could see the look in their eyes. I wish you could see their faces. Because while the last two weeks may seem shocking to some people in this country, its never been shocking to them. They know. They’ve always known. This is their reality, our reality. The past two weeks have torn our hearts apart, and my kids are hurting. We’re all hurting. We’re tired. I can’t begin to explain how tired we are.

The trees and the lights feel empty this year. How do I celebrate this season of joy when my babies are terrified for their lives? How do I enjoy the cheeriness of it all when my kids are pleading for a chance to be human? How do we cling to hope when we just can’t seem to catch a break?

And so, today, more than ever before, my heart longs for Christmas – for the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the King of Hope. My heart is longing for Him more than ever because there is no way in hell we’re going to make it through this without Him. I long for His Presence.

And 2,000 years, and 7,600 miles can’t keep his arrival from being a present reality. In the darkness of night, with the boot of Rome at their throats, with nowhere to go, in the humblest of circumstances, the Christ child was born unto them, unto us, unto all of us. That is the God that I know: the one that longs to be close, the one born into dark, in the midst of oppression, in the midst of the pain. Christ came to us. He comes.

In this season of Advent, my heart is longing for Christmas, longing for Christ. I am longing for the Christ whose mercy and grace listened to the hurting woman at the well. I am longing for the Christ whose words and actions protected the adulterer when the world turned against her. I am longing for the Christ whose righteous anger flips tables in the temple to wake up his people from their sin. I’m longing for the Christ whose heart is with the hurting, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the unheard. And tonight I am on my hands and knees begging him to be present with me, with us, and with them.

I could give you facts, and articles, and statistics, and numbers. I could give you history, and current events, and a million documentaries. I could give you everything I know about systemic oppression, and injustice, and how it is betraying millions of people in this country, but it is all so empty if you don’t see their faces, don’t hear their voices, don’t know their names. There are people who are hurting. My kids, myself, and communities of color everywhere, we hurt.

Inside of the high school where I teach, there is a quote that my students pass by every day:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl,
but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – MLK

Today, that is my prayer for them, and for me, and for us. And some weeks are flying weeks, but this one, this one right here, this was a knees to the floor, hands on the ground, inch by inch, crawling. Jesus, teach us to listen. Teach us to choose to look into the eyes of the hurting, and teach us to not look away. Father, teach us to hope. Teach us to cling to the hope that this can be different, that this can change, that it won’t always be like this for us. Papa, teach us to fly. Teach us to lead in the listening, to be the first to be humbled, and the first to serve. Abba, teach us to keep moving forward. Teach us to crawl, to enter into the suffering of others, to be witnesses of your love to the hurting, and to keep pressing on, even when our hearts are in pieces. In this season of Advent, our hearts are longing for You more than ever. God, be with your children who are hurting. Be with my babies today. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

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