Hope: The only present I need

Published 10:03 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

By Chris Surber

The world aches. Every stone resonates with the dull pain of something lost. Every tree and living creature pulses with it.

Chris Surber

Every human heart knows instinctively that this world is not as it should be. There is something missing. There is something broken. There is something needed. The religious individual seeks for meaning in this life through ritual and creed. The irreligious seek solace in philosophy, the promise of science, or perhaps the pleasure of indulgence. Some people simply ignore it, though most do so largely in vain.

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This Christmas season, I purchased many gifts for people. I bought my children several overpriced toys they probably don’t need. I purchased my wife some trinkets, along with things we can pretend that she needed. I always tell her to have the kids make me something or just buy me what I need. The trouble is that I really don’t need anything.

Well, when I’m honest, that statement is only half true. I would wager that even though you and I wear different shoes, have different stories and walk a different path through this life, you’d agree.

I need hope. In my work as a minister I am so often confronted with other people’s pain. When I am, the dull ache of the world’s missing piece starts to throb in the deepest places of my soul. I need to be able to look forward to a day when the missing pieces of our lives will fit together, when it will make sense. I need solace that goes beyond the comfort of ritual and the succor of short-lived indulgences in the hollow delights that this world can offer.

And then it is Christmas again. My hope is stirred, then it is provoked, and finally it returns. My eyes see beyond the Christmas lights to the radiant beauty of the light that Jesus brought into this world. Though my eyes ache from the disappointment that they have witnessed too often during the year previous, the light of the love of God shines into my dim little world.

The God who put the immensity of His love for His creatures upon display in a tiny glowing face, in a small cave manger, in a little village in the Mediterranean called Bethlehem, speaks to me, softly whispering way down in the recesses of my heart, “This is what my love for you looks like; this is the only present that you need.”

Christ fills in the missing pieces. Jesus is a light resonating on the darkness of what is, shining light on what it should and could be; not telling but showing us what love for one another looks like and offering freely a lasting hope. The world aches, but it does so in the shadow of the light of Christ. The world is imperfect, and people love one another imperfectly.

However, in the little face that shone in Bethlehem, down which later ran the blood of love from a crown of thorns, God shines the light of perfect love. He has given us the Christmas present that we actually need — hope.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church on Cypress Chapel Road.