Merry Christmas, everyone. What a strange year it’s been.
And I’m not talking about Stranger Things, that show which the entire world seems to be obsessing over these days. (I am one of fifteen people who has not watched it yet, so no spoilers please.)
No, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction and these past three-hundred-or-so-days were happy to oblige.
Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand”.
On the one hand, our news and Facebook feeds have been filled with all sorts of strange and unusual and entertaining stories: The resurgence of the Flat Earthers. The women reportedly flocking to plastic surgeons requesting Meghan Markle’s nose. The jogger caught pooping in people’s yards in New York. These eyebrow trends. That guy who cemented his head inside a microwave. The President’s Twitter feed.
Humans sure like to keep things interesting.
But we’ve also been exposed to the other “side” of strange – to a whole host of surprising stories that are unsettling and hard to understand. Stories of the very worst examples of human nature. Stories of terror and heartache and abuse and exploitation. Stories that can be found on the other side of the world and in our own backyard.
There are passionate debates about whether our world is getting progressively better or progressively worse. I can see why it’s easy to believe we’re going downhill – particularly when it’s those stories that get the most airtime.
One of my very favorite Christmas movies is Love, Actually. (And to my horror, one of my very favorite people, Jen Hatmaker, recently admitted she hates it. I’m still coming to terms with that revelation, but I digress.)
The entire movie is a gem, but the opening dialogue is pure gold.
[To be read in the voice of Hugh Grant]
Good gravy. Just READING it sends me into a blubbering mess. brb.
Yes, some of our days are filled with Strange and Terrible stories that make our eardrums bleed and we just want to get under the covers and hold a pillow over our head until the storm passes. I get it. Sometimes I just stare at my computer screen and shout, OK ENOUGH.
But spending our days under that figurative blanket may very well keep us from missing out on those stories of people being Strange and Wonderful and showing up and showing love in unexpected ways.
Like the couple in Florida who adopted seven siblings from three different foster homes, the four-year-old who donated her piggy bank money to a police officer with cancer, and the beachgoers that formed a human train to rescue a group of stranded swimmers.
Like the way a community rallies around a family who lost everything in a fire, anonymous gifts left on front porches, a home cooked dinner delivered to a new mom, or the car in front paying for your meal in the drive-thru.
It’s like Hugh said, if we look hard enough, love is actually all around us. If we look hard enough, you’ll find there are people – so many people – being strange and doing the unexpected in the best way possible.
And really, what better time of year to reflect on
Strange and Wonderful than at Christmas?
For doesn’t it seem strange that 2,000 years ago God sent his only Son to earth in the form of a tiny, vulnerable human baby by way of Virgin? And that this Son of God wasn’t even given a proper place to stay but instead would take His first breaths in a stable surrounded by animals and feces?
Doesn’t it seem strange that when everyone was expecting a conquering King, Jesus spent His time here talking about things like loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, and practicing forgiveness? (Ideas that, sadly, still seem strange in today’s society.)
Doesn’t it seem strange for Him to take Judas as a disciple with the knowledge that he would be the one to betray Him? Doesn’t it seem strange that the Son of God would willingly sacrifice Himself for us? That He would willingly endure such physical and emotional pain and humiliation, knowing that there would be millions of us who would ultimately reject Him?
(Now there’s an episode of Stranger Things.)
Strange and truly, truly wonderful.
As we get ready to say goodbye to another year, I hope to bring this reminder with me. Yes, things may seem bleak and dark and troubling and strange in the worst of ways. But…BUT…there IS love and light and people doing all sorts of strange and wonderfully good things.
Sometimes we just have to look for it.