[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Koops, with his wife and three daughters, live in Fort Qu’appelle, SK. Both Michael and his wife, Sheena, are teachers in that community.]
This comes from Psalm 85:7-10 :
7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. 9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
I have a secret to tell you…when I was a boy I disliked Christmas.
I have a lot of good memories about Christmas, but I have one strong memory of Christmas. Christmas evening, like every evening, was a night without my mom. She worked almost every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It represented double time and she was at the bottom of the totem pole in seniority and picking holidays at the nursing home. Usually, I kind of like the time alone at home in the evening. Even today, I like visiting with people, but I like being alone in my home even more.
However, Christmas was different.
It became a symbol of what I did not have.
Christmas morning I would get up, mom would be at work already and I would have some breakfast cereal while opening my stocking. Later in the day, I would catch a bus, a very empty bus and ride 45 minutes to downtown. I would then transfer to another bus and ride for 20 minutes to mom’s work, where we would have a turkey loaf dinner.
One year, walking to the bus stop, I looked into the window of a medium-sized house. It was one of those big picture windows. I could see a dad with a Christmas sweater on. I saw a boy playing with some toys. It was Norman Rockwell perfect. I became so angry, hurt, and full of despair that I threw a broken brick at their window and ran off in fear, loathing, and even more despair. I don’t even know if I broke their window, but I intended to break their Christmas. Since that day, I have had an ambiguous relationship with the holiday season. On that day, I felt the wrongness of this season, which so many people feel.
Now we fast forward to December 11, 2012 where I participated in an interrelated faith service called “Blue Christmas”. Different congregations get together at one of the churches in town and pray for those who struggle with the Christmas season. I am sure you can understand that Christmas isn’t necessarily a joyful season for everyone.
People have lost loved ones this year and are spending it alone without them. People are financially stretched and feel inadequate in this commercial-ridden holiday. People are fighting addictions. People are alone. People do not have a peace that passes understanding. And at the “Blue Christmas” service, a group of believers got together and we prayed. We prayed for people to have peace. We prayed to have peace. We prayed for you to have peace.
I read this Psalm and I hold onto this prayer: “Speak peace to my heart”. I want to let go of the anxiety about work. I want to be free of the stress of expectations. I want salvation from the grip of sadness that can come over me.
So I cry out to God, “Speak peace to my heart”.
Cry out! Let God know that this season you want “Steadfast love and faithfulness [to] meet; righteousness and peace [to] kiss each other”.
God will respond.