Christmas: Ruminating vs. Remembering

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I played music at two different Christmas parties this week.

The first one was called Blue Christmas. It was for people who really hate Christmas, and rightly so, as many people from this church suffer from great loneliness and even tragedy in their lives.

There were different stations for things such as thankfulness, mourning, and anger. 

The mourning station had beautiful blue bottles with water in them, which you would transfer to a large glass jug. The station was based on the wonderful verse Psalm 56:8, which says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded them in your book.” 

The jar represented the tears that God collects from us, but also represented that all of our tears are intermingled  together, that we are not alone in our sadness.

By far my favorite station was the anger station. At this station, you wrote something you were angry about on a glass ornament. Then you put on safety goggles and threw it as hard as you could at a wall. 

It felt really good. Like more good than it should have felt. So good in fact that my brother and I snuck in after the service and threw all the leftovers with a glee that was more appropriate for watching It’s A Wonderful Life than angrily hurling soon to be sharp objects against a concrete wall. 

A few days later I played at another concert, one that was completely opposite of the first one. I have done these concerts for years. I call them Christmas Fantasticals 

To start things out, I told the history of wassailing, which is where carols come from. 

Wassailing involved poor people in the middle ages going to their mean landlord’s houses and singing Christmas songs. Next, the poor people asked for beer, cheese, and you guessed it, figgy pudding. And no I am not making that up. Then, they would nonchalantly pass a leather bag to the rich people. If the landlords didn’t put money in it, the poor people would vandalize their house.

Ah, the spirit of Christmas. Isn’t it beautiful?

Then we had Story Time With Kate in which I dressed up in a robe and slippers, called the audience my children, and read my favorite story out of a Norman Rockwell book. 

We ended with toasting and singing lots of carols together.

I love these concerts more than most concerts I do all year. They make me happy. They are so ridiculously fun.

Which of these concerts do I relate to more? I ask myself. The Blue Christmas concert, where I face the  frustration and sadness of feeling alone at Christmas? The anger of losing my father and my job and some treasured relationships in the space of one year? Where I admit my deep longing for children that are laughing  and playing around a Christmas tree? (Getting a tree just for only myself feels weird.) Of hearing Rocking around the Christmas Tree 26.6 times? (The .6 comes from when I went to the karaoke guy and threatened to have him fired.) 

Or do I relate more to the happy Christmas Fantasticals concert? Do I focus on  the joy of being with friends that I have loved and have loved me for years? Of lights and wonder and A Charlie Brown Christmas and people generously giving to each other? A season where even atheists sing songs about the coming of the Lord?

I think it’s both at the same time. A juxtaposition of the joy and sadness. Feelings that are so mixed together that it is hard to tell where one emotion ends and the other begins.

And Jesus meets me in both places. 

Maybe it’s time for me to take a break from focusing on my feelings. I should stop ruminating and start remembering.

Here is what I need to remember: the mystery and wonder of the incarnation. 

We focus so much on Jesus dying, but the incarnation is equally astounding.  The birth, the death, the resurrection, are the love story that all other stories flow from. The most beautiful story ever told. 

The messiah that had been passionately longed for for generations had come. The rivers bent their knees. The angels bowed. The stars sang. The earth trembled. 

What was this that was happening? all of creation wondered with awe. Could God love mankind so much that he would limit himself to the body of a human? Could he love us in our suffering in such a way that he refused to be born into a kingdom, but in a shack, only worthy of animals to live in, pointing to how much he loved the poor, the brokenhearted? 

The unfathomable God who can’t be contained by the universe made himself so small that he lived in a tiny baby. Think about that. 

Most people could not even look at God and live before. Now he came down so we could hold in him our arms. Hold him close, so very close, to our hearts. 

That message is beautiful. It is mysterious. It is life changing. 

I wrote a song that my little three year old friend Kelty loves called Hush Child. He listens to it all the time. Every time I am over at his house his mom asks me to sing it. And every time I sing it, Kelty looks up at me and says “Auntie Kate, did you write that song for me?” And every time I say “Of course I wrote it for you Kelty. Of course I did.” 

I see the babe in the manger. I look up at God and I say “God, did you do that for me? Did you make yourself so small that you could love me and meet me in my joy, meet me in my pain?” And he says “Of course I did, Katie girl. Of course I did that for you.” 

When I remember that, whether I am happy or sad doesn’t seem to matter any more. What matters is that I am loved.

I am reminded of a song I wrote about this:

 

Sometimes in the chaos, I forget the real story

God became flesh, the infinite ultimate you found

In a tiny baby

All because of your love

All because of your love

 

You came down so humble so meek, that’s just how you are

The world didn’t know you, went on with their lives

On the day that you were born

All because of your love

All because of your love

 

Tell me the story again for the first time

The babe in a manger who’s really the savior of all mankind

Tell me the story again fort the first time

The passionate God who would live and would die

All because of your love

All because of your love for me

 

As you lay in that manger oh Lord did you think about me

I know that you gave up your glory became a man just

So that you could reach me

All because of your love

All because of your love

 

And the ones that came to worship were the poor the wretched and the lame

Funny how things never change, because we are the weak become strong

That worship you today

All because of your love

All because of your love

 

Tell me the story again for the first time

The babe in a manger who’s really the savior of all mankind

Tell me the story again fort the first time

The passionate God who would live and would die

All because of your love

All because of your love for me

 

(If you’d like to hear  this song, it’s on my Christmas EP which is called Now All Is Well. 

 

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About Kate Hurley

Hello there! My name is Kate Hurley. I am a singer songwriter, worship leader, writer, and teacher based out of Boulder, CO. (go to katehurley.com for more about me and free downloads of my music.) I am single, but I am not a loser. Just wanted to get that straight. For more about me and free downloads of my music, go to katehurleymusic.com. For a bit more bio, go to the about page.

6 responses »

  1. So true. Good things to think about, this time of year. Thanx for ur beautiful music for Blue Christmas. Merry Christmas, sweetie!

  2. Catching up on the posts I’ve missed. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing the beauty that God creates through you. I need it.

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