The other day, driving to work I was thinking about the family. We’ve had better moments when it comes to being together for the holidays. I’m stretched between my day job and a part-time moonlighting pastor gig. The hubs is trying to figure out how to cram one more semester of dissertation writing around a job that is way beyond full-time on a good week. The kid is spending Christmas away from home for reasons that I mostly understand, but not completely. Extended family has had smoother times as well.
We yell, we miss the point in conversations, we misplace frustrations and stress and put them on the people we are meant to hold close, pushing them away, at least for a time. And when time is tight, waiting to cool off to apologize can mean missing the opportunity to mend a breach.
The word that came to mind was “broken”. Not ruined, not irreparable (Lord willing), but not whole at the moment, either. Which made me think of Lilo and Stitch. We’ve used the quote about O’Hana being family, that no one gets left behind or forgotten – sometimes when someone is lagging behind and at risk of getting separated in theme park crowds. Sometimes when one of our spares is vulnerable and afraid that they’ve crossed “the line”, risking their acceptance as part of the family-by-choice.
But this day, I was more thinking about the end of the movie… when Stitch speaks up about the family he found:
Yeah… when we take the time to be together, the fissures don’t all disappear, but we are good. I woke up today, thinking about what all needed to happen to get ready to lead worship tonight… how my family, broken and yet good, isn’t ever going to be the family in matching clothes smiling for the Christmas photo. And then a couple of friends shared this post on Facebook, which inspired the following prayer that I will use in the Christmas Eve service tonight.
Lord of Stables and Stars and everything in between,
We come tonight to give thanks
We come tonight to remember
We come tonight to worship
We come tonight to welcome the Christ child
To usher in Christmas
And in some ways, we come to escape…
To step out of the reality of the world around us,
The reality of the brokenness we experience
Through the news reports
Through our windows
Across the room
In our hearts
Lord of unwed mothers and over-full inns,
Help us remember that there never was a perfect Christmas
Our lives are as messy as the stable in which Mary gave birth
Our hearts are unfit for welcoming a King
With people of every time and place,
We confess that we are unworthy to call upon your name.
And yet, here we are.
Because you came.
Because you are here.
Because you will always be here.
You cry with us over empty chairs at our tables.
You laugh with us when joy returns
You sit with us in middle of our despair
Over choices made and words left unsaid,
Over torture and violence and war
Over the role we have allowed your church to play in all of it.
You stay with us as we take small steps
Lord of Life and Light
We welcome you with hope
We long for your Peace
We greet you with Joy
We open our hearts to your Love
Shine for us and in us,
Holy Emmanuel in whose name we pray
Yep. I needed that.