i've been mulling over it. a lot.

what's Christmas? really? because we read the same words all the time. about how Jesus was born in a manager and the shepherds followed a star. And Santa's all over the place, and we talk about writin' him a letter and I just made cookies and don't forget the carrots for the reindeer --

And then we hear, "It's not about the presents. Let's think about the true meaning of Christmas."

What even is that? They say, the true meaning of Christmas is family; being together, celebrating this time. Celebrating what? I guess, being together.

And all of that is very good. Very, very good. I mean, tearing off that wrapping paper is a pretty joyous event, does anyone really grow out of that? Like, ever? Even when you're ninety-five and can hardly move your fingers because of arthritis?

I'm not five years old anymore. And I'm learning something. For myself, not in a world of books and movies where reality is just a turn-the-TV-off, shut-the-book kind of click away.

Suddenly there is... brokenness.

And waking up at six in the morning and begging for present opening time... doesn't mean anything it did. Because...

it's Christmas Eve and yet all i can think 
is that the faces of the ones my friends loved 
are only a photograph on the wall

And so if we don't know any joy, then why celebrate at all? There's no good, only the ever-present awareness of your best friend, who's not there today.

I've been thinking about this, for so many days. And today I prayed, I didn't know what to say.

"dear Jesus... thankYou... for coming... here."

It's occurred to me today, and been brushing against my mind for weeks: We are actually alive. God has actually given us the gift of life. Life!

God created the world. And it's such a... broad statement, that it's so easy to overlook and push aside. Like, "Oh yeah, righteo, I believe that. I mean, here we are. We came somehow. God. That's good."

And then, one day, one starry night, actually -- God came here. God came here. God. Who made the world. Who honestly and truely made you and me -- He came here. As a baby. A tiny, helpless baby. Why? To see what it was like, really like in this place He'd made? To explore some of the exotic islands since nobody else seemed to have found them yet?

As a gift, actually. A gift of hope. He came and His birth lit a candle in our souls. A candle that burns bright and doesn't flicker. A candle that stays alight with the promised hope of life. Because... because He loves us.

Yeah, there's one other thing I've found -- I can't put it into words, the... truthness, of it all. I haven't read any words that speak the truth to me. It's... in my heart. I know it, that You came here, God! It's just unfathomable and... indescribable. I can't grip it, take hold of it. I just know. Because You put the truth in my heart, dear God.

through harried phone calls as we plan 
whose house we'll be for Christmas tea
hours away on the other side of the equator,
people hold their own underneath a paper shelter
through a ruthless winter

You know what I'm realizing as I sit here, trying to figure out if I should be writing "God came here" or "Jesus came here"? I know nothing. I'm writing all these words.

But what I need to know, what you need to know...

is that Jesus came because He loves us.
And that there is hope.

Have you seen the movie Evan Almighty? There's a great line in that. It goes like this:

Let's say you asked God for patience. Now, does God give you patience -- or does He give you opportunities to be patient?

And there's this one other thing. For us people who never know what's the right thing to do, why'd I say that, why on earth did I do that, that was not the right thing to do, oh I can't believe I did that.

One act of random kindness at a time.

That is love. That is how we love. Because what did God say? Ask and you shall receive. If we ask God to teach us how to love, for us to able to love like He does... are we gonna wake up in the morning and be this totally changed soul that cares more for others than for self? Because I've tried that, and as soon as someone enters the kitchen while I'm having breakie, bam! I've already failed.

God gives us the opportunities to love. Right now. Right here. Right where you are. Look around. Jesus will give you the opportunity. To be courageous, to be patient. To be friendly. How is this? Look up, away from this screen. Walk into some other room where there's people. Or write someone a card. And I don't know, smile at them. (If it's your brother or a sister, they might question your reasons.) Whatever opportunity of goodness arises, you know? There's so many. All the hope in the world. All we have is today. Love is no longer a hopelessly hard thing to capture, to imitate.

Because it starts with one simple act... of random kindness. At a time.

dear Jesus,
please be with every single person in the world, right now. wherever we are, whatever we believe. i pray that You will pour Your hope into the hearts of every being, that Your hope will light a candle in our souls, that we will know Your truth and that oh, that You love us Jesus. Jesus, please be with the people whose Christmas won't be the same this year. please let them know that You love them and that... that You're real and You love us.

CS Lewis Song, brooke fraser --
 For we, we are not long here

Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming

For I hold you by your right hand--I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you. -- Isaiah 41:13

you know what music's been speaking my heart? relient k. i never knew them before. i can't stop listening. thankYou God. 

let's thank God. for what He's given us. hope.
 Let hope risewho is, who was, who is to come

That last picture. Jesus... He's coming back. In His birth, brought this hope; He is coming back to bring us Home. We're strangers in this place. (Psalm 119.) Let's hold onto that hope. And Jesus? I pray that Your light, we'll live in a way that the people we meet in this world, they'll catch sight of it and they'll... well, their eyes'll be opened. and they'll see You. and know hope. Hope.

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