If you follow MommyKnickers blog (see my blog roll for the link) than you know of the Advent stories she records for me, which she has been, and will be, posting about throughout Advent. Many of my Christmas favorites are sad, and I even added another one to that list just this past weekend.
SONGS: My favorite song (possibly out of all songs, but definitely of Christmas songs) is Neal and Leandra's Mary's Lullaby (sometimes performed by Neal, and then changed to Joseph's Lullaby). It is so beautiful and so sad...Mary is singing and knows Jesus' fate -- "Hush now, don't cry every heart must break sometimes. I'll hold you tight until the world has broken mine." -- I literally just got tears in my eyes typing that.
BOOKS: There are many Christmas/Winter stories that make me cry, some from a kind of empathetic joy, but many from sadness. To name a few...The Little Match Girl, The Clown of God (btw, you should totally go to that link because it links to a Clown Ministry website - my worst hated thing!), and my most recent acquisition, The Birds' Christmas Carol, about a little girl who is born on Christmas (just like me). She brings great happiness to her family and those who know her, but she becomes ill, and, well, it is set in the 1880's and was written at the turn of the 20th century, so I think you can guess what happens there.
But really, the story of little Carol Bird is an allegory for Christ, albeit a bit watered down. At one point Carol's parents decide that she is not entirely of this place, and that, when she has done what God sent her to do, God will take her back. Surprisingly, I didn't cry when I read it. But then, I usually don't cry on Black Friday.
Why not? I cry all the time during Advent and Christmastide. Here's my theory: At Christmas we celebrate a birth. This tiny new, innocent, weak creature comes into our midst wanting to love and be loved. But we know that the world will crush him. The world will break his mother's heart and refuse to learn the things he has to teach us. We cry because we are thinking of that baby and his family and their pain.
But then Lent comes. What can I do to change my habits? What do I need to be forgiven for? And then Jesus breaks the bread and offers the wine...for us. He offers up his body and soul for us that we may live*...and so Lent and Easter become about us. We don't take the time to mourn the death of our teacher.
Imagine this: The Youth Pastor at your church just had a birthday - the church threw him a party where they told him how much they appreciate his work, as well as just liking him as a person. He's gay, which is a.o.k. by your congregation, but apparently not o.k. with the thugs who beat him up one night, leaving him in a bloody heap to die. People from all over have opinions about it, and people from your own community and denomination are saying that maybe God wanted it that way.
The day of his funeral comes and no one shows. The church is empty and cold and he has no mourners...except his mother.
But it wouldn't happen like that, would it? There would be candlelight vigils and benefits to raise money so his partner could pay for the funeral. Hot dishes and pans of bars would find their way to his mother's house with cards of sympathy attached. It would be standing room only at his memorial service, crying - no, sobbing, for this lost blessed soul would abound, and no one would ever forget him, or deny knowing him.
So why don't we treat Jesus this way? Why don't we scream and sob at the injustice of his death?
Anyone who has loved a baby knows that when you hold that sleeping/squirming/squealing thing in you hands...nothing else matters. You would do anything for that baby and your wants and needs are the last thing on your mind.
I plan on trying to think about this more this lent and Easter season, so please check back to see what I come up with!
*Just a side note that I don't actually know if I buy into the whole 'dying to save my sins' stuff...but that's the common theology, so that's what I am going on.
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