Suicide rates climb. Alcohol bills escalate. Pharmacists fill individual prescriptions once, twice, three times in a month. Emergency rooms overflow. Depression and anxiety about loved ones not present haunt us. People are overwhelmed by hopeless desperation. Others, lost in a room, pray just to be heard. The world is spinning a bit too fast and not forgiving of anyone's fears. Isn't there anywhere we can go for a second chance, and a third, and a seventy-seventh? Is there anywhere, just for a moment, a person can be still? So often, we find ourselves face down in the ditch, blood on our lips, wondering where we went wrong? We wonder if it's even possible, this side of heaven, to know what true love means. We reach out for someone to hang onto and instead receive blows from an emotional nine pound hammer. Every single day gets harder and we get lost in trying to find our own way to something that life's not given us. We hold our breath at the effort and forget to breathe.
This time of year, Christmas time, the world isn't so much Christ-expectant as it is Christ-haunted. It holds its breath, not in anticipation, but at the effort of over-living. The Church, like a pregnant bride, yearns to celebrate the Son's birth. The world though, is an aimless motherless child. Suicide, alcohol binges, drug abuse, depression and anxiety are the ghosts that haunt us—and the fine print that underscores each relationship drives us ever forward, aimless and blind, trying to fetch back the time stolen from us by God and neighbors. And so the Church, she prays for herself and all the world, "Our Father... Thy kingdom come... Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." And her prayer is answered.
The Bride welcomes the long-promised Son. God's Word enfleshed. Jesus, our Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And the Bride holds up the Child that lay on Mary's lap for all the world to see. Little Babe, nail-pierced and bloody, robed in swaddling clothes, crowned with thorns. He is our "Amen." The First and Last Word from God the Father for human beings clinging to a world that spins too fast, is unforgiving, and all out of second chances.
Jesus the Savior—Yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David for Israel and for all. The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. No exceptions, no conditions, nothing of God's grace and mercy held back.
So come and join the Bride, you who are suicidal. Come see the Christ child, you alcohol bingers and drug abusers. Come out of the darkness, you depressed and anxious. Come hear the Good News that your prayers have been heard, and there, where God's Word is enfleshed you can receive an answer. In the Church, there are no more second chances, or thirds, or seventy-sevenths. There is only Jesus, the faithfulness of God, and the love of God, and the kindness of God toward sinners.
Behold, unto us a Child is born! Jesus is his name. Don't be afraid. His coming is a message of good news and great joy for all people because from him, and in him, and through him, God stills our troubled hearts and worried minds. He comes to save people from all their sin.