Blue Christmas….Where’s Elvis when you need him?

December 12, 2012

Christmas / Advent

With Elvis singing, even a Blue Christmas almost seems fun.  If only we could all have a nice guitar strumming and background singers saying “woo woo hoo” or whatever phrase that is, to help us through a tough holiday season and get us through the blues.

Last week, I read someone’s Facebook status that said something along the lines of,  “Why are all the Christmas movies about love and perfect endings, when life rarely works out that way?”   If you’re like me when things are going well, it’s easy to forget that for more than a few people, the holiday season, in spite of all the cheery songs, colorful decorations and cheesy movies, can be quite rough. “The most wonderful time of the year” as Burl Ives sang is a reminder for many that their life is less than idea.  A reminder of their lack of family or of the type of family they wish and dream to have.  A reminder of another year and how they failed to measure up to their own idea of themselves.  Many of us have Clark Griswald high expectations for Christmas but the reality is sometimes all together different.

Christmas has always been a favorite holiday of mine, but over the years I’m increasing aware that for a lot of people the joy of the season is overshadowed by their broken dreams and losses.  Included among my friends right now are those who have cancer or whose children have cancer, those going through a divorce or relationship difficulties, those who are having significant issues with their children, those dealing with grief after recent deaths in their families, and quite a few struggling with their finances.   I don’t doubt that most of you could make a list similar to mine.   Where is Elvis and those cute background singers when you need them?

I’m going to make myself a bit vulnerable over the next couple of weeks and share a bit of my own life journey.  For whatever reason, it’s something I feel like I’m supposed to do.  You see, it’s not that hard to remember the darkest Christmas of my life.   If life had turned out just a bit differently many years ago and I had gotten the crazy Christmas miracle I prayed for,  I’d be celebrating a wedding anniversary later this month.   I should have been the first of my friends to get married.   Instead, if I do ever get married, I’ll be the last.

My grief and healing process was slow.  Probably too slow.  But, God has done some wonderful things over the years in my life.  I’m in a good place these days.  In fact, I haven’t  spent much time thinking about such dates during my recent Decembers.  My life is a testimony of hope.  However  in the past few months I’ve been attempting to write about that part of my life and it’s jolted back a few memories (mostly in a good way).

Norma Brunson, my friend and colleague from my days in the Middle East, told me once that the hardest dreams to let go of, are those that we believed to be God dreams.  God dreams – Those dreams that we were certain came from the Father’s heart and yet somehow aren’t fulfilled or are broken.  I know that has definitely been the truth in my life.  Sometimes there is just no getting your head around and understanding a loss of something that you knew with the fullest of conviction was from God.

And there is Israel waiting for a Messiah living in a land occupied by the Romans. The foreign soldiers are everywhere.  And they can be brutal at times.  Where are the prophets these days?  Where is God’s voice?  Life isn’t easy.   There once was a promise of a Messiah.  Some are still hoping.   But there is little evidence.  How can anyone believe?  When the Messiah comes, they know He will be a conquering king but when all around you is evidence that you’ve been conquered and when any dreams that you had are crushed like the rebels who dared to face the Roman legions, how can you hope? There is a rumor of a world changing event in Bethlehem but it’s seems the most outrageous thing and likely just pure nonsense.

Is Israel to believe that in the midst of her broken dreams, that hope has arrived in swaddling clothes and laying in a manager?   Is Joseph to believe that God is at work in his life and that of the young pregnant girl he is engaged to marry?  Mary longed to be married someday, but this wasn’t exactly how she planned it while playing with her Bedouin Barbie dolls as a child.  Is this really of God? The shepherds so despised by society, aren’t sure whether they’ve just experienced the most incredible night of their life or whether they just all ate some bad hummus and were hallucinating.   Yet, if it’s true, in spite of their own mental pictures and broken dreams, maybe God is at work.

Elvis has left the building for good.  Despite what those groupies in Graceland say, he’s not coming back.  There’s no Memphis singer coming to woo you out of heartbreak hotel.

But if you dare to believe…..this Bethlehem baby isn’t just an ordinary baby.  Despite the crying and the difficult journey and birth, something is about to change.   Hope is wearing a diaper this “Holy” night.  You may have missed it.  Lots of people did and still do.    In your dark night, don’t miss the star.   As you long for a worldly king with lots of bling and the next “big thing” God is going to do, don’t miss that little manger right in front of you.

Don’t settle for “woo hoo woo hoo” and cute background singers for comfort when you can hear a chorus of “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth” from a band of angels!

You see,  the Christmas story has always been a ludicrous proposal.  It’s often much easier to believe in a fat guy sliding through chimneys than it is the truth of the Christmas story.   It’s almost too good to be true.   Aren’t kings born in palaces?  Don’t princes and rulers come through force? No wonder so many missed it. The savior of Israel and of the world born in stable?  The hope of humanity is a crying baby with dirty diapers? Are you kidding me?  World powers get their strength from their military forces.  This baby is a conquering king and the one to place our hope?  That’s nearly as ridiculous as proposing that a man who died via capital punishment on a cruel cross could save us of our sins.

Yet….that is the hope and wonder of Christmas.

The challenge the characters of the Nativity story faced is also one we face.

Can you dare to believe that God is working despite your own expectations?  In the midst of your disappointments and broken dreams, can you dare to believe that the Savior of the world is still being reborn and working in the most unexpected ways and places? Can you hear the angel saying “don’t be afraid! God is about to do a new thing.”

What broken dreams have kept you back from recognizing the work of God in unlikely places?

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One Comment on “Blue Christmas….Where’s Elvis when you need him?”

  1. Danielle Taylor Says:

    One of my pastors once said in a sermon, “How do you know this wasn’t God’s plan from the very beginning.” He was referring to that difference from our reality and from what we thought God had intended for us to be doing. It really caused me to pause and reflect. Through my pain, hurts, and disappointments have come opportunities to share my testimony and faith. They gave me opportunities to grow. I still know the end of the story. I still know that God is bigger. I just had no idea how big that actually was. I’m sure I still have no clue just how big He is. I’ve also come to realize that when I thought I knew God’s plan, I expected everything to happen immediately… that instant gratification thing. I have found that several of those things that didn’t happen then, did in fact happen, and are even in the process of happening now. I forget that God has my entire life to lead me along his plan. I have learned I like it that way. It leaves a little something to look forward to!


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