By Jennifer Baergen Davis
I have two sons who up until recently LOVED legos. We have quite the collection of LEGO sets that could potentially make my husband and me rich if we knew anything about how to sell things on e-bay.
We have probably every Star Wars and Harry Potter Lego Set made between the years of 2010-2020. The LEGO table in my younger son’s room is literally overflowing with intricate castles, ships, and awesome interactive sets like the Whomping Willow. Every year for Christmas, this is what my boys wanted… and so they got the newest Lego set under the tree. And every Christmas day for the past 10 years, we played Christmas music as our two sons lovingly and cooperatively (this was our Christmas gift) put together their favorite new LEGO set.
That is about to change.
My younger son recently said to me, “It’s time to get rid of the LEGO sets. Do you think we can sell them?”
I am all for cleaning things out and giving stuff way, but this is different. This is a milestone. This means they are really growing up… and it actually hurts. My 10th grader has much less to do with us these days and my 7th grader, who has never wanted to give anything sentimental away, is ready to give away his old toys. This is just the beginning of the pain that comes with letting them go and I don’t like it. It also changes Christmas for our family.
My kids don’t see everything as magical as they once did. When it came to decorating our tree, my older son begrudgingly graced us with his presence for an hour at most. And well, no more LEGOs will be purchased this year.
Christmas is changing for me in other ways. Last year was the first Christmas I had to spend without my mom on this earth. I think I was numb from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. This year I am less numb, but the pain isn’t less. She made everything exciting and there is no one who loved me as much as she did. And she loved Christmas. It hurts to face this season without her.
While the Christmas season is special, it is also deeply painful for many people.
Our church has had 27 members die this year and many of their funerals have been in the last five months. I am ministering with people who are struggling with alcoholism, teenagers with depression, and young children who have lost parents. The darkness is thick and the joy of the season seems out of reach. Even the mundane, ordinary struggles of life like raising teenagers, making ends meet financially, and trying to keep everyone in the family healthy feels exhausting. Now we are adding on the numerous Christmas parties, long shopping lists, and chipper Christmas songs playing everywhere we go. It makes one stop and wonder like Charlie Brown, “What is Christmas all about?”
But then… the first Sunday of Advent comes and what is it all about? HOPE. In that one word, is all the answers, promises, and peace for which we are longing. Jesus didn’t come into a world where all was merry and bright. Jesus came into a dark world where people were longing for some relief. Jesus was the hope, the light in the darkness, and he still is for us today. We do not have to “be happy” during this time of year in order to claim this hope and this light. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined,” so it says in Isaiah 9:2. And the light shines on us once again. There is hope and it is real, and it is within our exhausted reach.
I had a rough day on the first Sunday of Advent this season. My time at church was long and busy, I was missing my mom, half of our pre-lit Christmas tree didn’t light up, and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to make this “the most wonderful time of the year” for my family. But as my family sat around our Advent wreath that night and lit the candle of hope, I gazed at the light and remembered. I have hope, we have hope, hope in the light and love of Christ. And that will outlast all the legos in the world.
Jennifer Baergen Davis is a CBF Leadership Scholar and serves as Pastor of Family Ministries at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas and is working toward completion of the Master of Divinity degree from Central Baptist Theological Seminary.