It began the day after Halloween.
On my morning walk I noticed a few wreaths on front doors and garland adorning mailboxes and entryways. At home my social media feed began showing people posing with Christmas trees recently decorated.
All of this before the jack-o-lanterns were gone from the front stoop.
We usually afford Thanksgiving the dignity of most of November before the Christmas frenzy begins, but not this year. No, in 2020 we are all desperate for Christmas.
We have been held captive to fear and discouragement for too long, and now we are reaching for hope. Like the Jews of old, exiled in a strange land and waiting for the Messiah, this year especially we long for rescue, for relief, and for joy.
So we string our lights and hang our stockings to cover the suffering of 2020 and bring us a sense of love and security. We light the candles in our windows to keep at bay the darkness that, this year, has been all too real. This year, we will usher Christmas in early and let the comforting sights and sounds soothe our weary souls.
“O come, o come Emmanuel”, we sing, ” and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.” We are ready for our own loneliness, our own exile from normal, to be over. We understand now the hunger. The ache.
Christmas decorating and celebrations may distract us from the harshness of 2020 for a little while, but the truth is that when December 26 arrives, we will still be in just as much need of hope as we were before.
Our longing for Christmas echoes a deeper need within us, for evil to be conquered and peace to reign in our world, in our families and in our own hearts. A need that won’t be assuaged by tinsel and cookies.
We need a savior. A hero who can push back the darkness and heal the brokenness in and around us. This year, more than any other, we need Christmas.
Celebrating Christmas early won’t heal this broken world and set everything right. But the One whose birth we celebrate – He has come to heal our broken hearts and make us right. And He will come again to finish in this world what He started in His people that cold night when heaven sang for the shepherds and the light of a distant star led the way to the manger. He will come, and we will be desperate no more.