For many, Christmas will come as a welcome relief from the social, political and environmental challenges that have occurred this year. For others, the holiday season itself brings fear and discomfort. In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Frodo experiences similar anxiety when facing the uncertainty that lies ahead in life. His success story is a little reminder of hope in this Advent season.
The Christmas season brings fellowship, joy, and serves as a reminder that hope exists--even in the darkest times. During the past year, the world has been rocked with natural disasters, wars, and the displacement of so many people.
A toxic political environment has bled into Facebook, impacting people to such an extent that “unfriending” is no longer the cure-all for extreme frustration. Realizing the need for reinforcements, hordes of people are crying out “Come, Lord Jesus” with hopes it can make all of the nastiness go away.
Similar cries for help and hope were echoed at the time of Jesus’ birth. Feeling oppressed, the people of God cried out for God to rescue them from Roman rule. God had heard their voices and rescued them in Egypt, so why not call on Him again?
And then God, in a surprising move, sent a baby. Yes, a baby. They thought to themselves, “Maybe he will be the king we were all hoping for that will cause a winning war over those that oppress us and we will once again be free.”
God heard their cries.
But sometimes life’s challenges lead us to wonder why we have to deal with it all. This familiar sentiment brings to mind the beautiful language of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, when Frodo and Gandalf were discussing the ring of power and the agony it has caused them all:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Advent is the time which is given to us to reflect. But for some reason, we forget that Advent is supposed to be a time when we cry out! Advent reminds us of where it all began. This baby named Jesus did not become just another ruling king. Jesus came to mend the broken relationships between us all, and between us and God.
Remember, this world is not all there is. There is a greater King who fights on our behalf through selfless giving and sacrificial love. Maybe that is the way we should be bringing about the change in our communities and in our world — through this hope found in Jesus. May your Advent be a time of crying out loud to God from your soul for peace and may your Christmas be finding hope in Jesus.