This phrase comes to my mind every year around this time. I say it. I hear it.

We get bad news in the days leading up to Christmas and say, “Oh no. And right here at Christmas, too.” In the South, it takes the place of “bless his heart.”

  • “Johnny fell, broke his ankle, and is in a cast. . . right here at Christmas.”
  • “Sam lost his job. . . right here at Christmas.”
  • “The transmission in Joe’s car went out. . . right here at Christmas.”
  • “The heat stopped working in the house. . . right here at Christmas.”
  • “Aunt Trish got another tattoo on her neck. . .right here at Christmas.”

You get the idea. All bad news is, well, bad. But it seems worse when the bad news comes “right here at Christmas.”

I’m not sure why, but it feels like the bad news piles on this time of year. It seems to intensify right here at Christmas. Just in my little sphere of the world, the end of 2020 feels like a microcosm of the whole year. One West Franklin deacon learned he has a spot on his lung. Another had brain surgery. Still another went to be with the Lord, leaving his precious wife a widow. All this week. All right here at Christmas. I learn every day of another West Franklin member or someone I know in other areas contracting the virus and having to quarantine – right here at Christmas. Relationships get increasingly tense right here at Christmas. Add to all this the fact that West Franklin isn’t having in person Christmas Eve services, or Sunday services for the next two weeks. All of this, right. here. at. Christmas.

But do you know what? I went to look at Christmas lights last night, in a warm vehicle, with my wife and three children. When we got home, I may or may not have eaten way too many cookies. I opened the mail to find some of you smiling at me from a Christmas card. I called my mom and laughed with her about a Christmas gift gaff. I then called my older sister to laugh at mom and the said gaff. I sat by the firepit with my daughter who was born in another country. I grilled pork tenderloin and chicken and – again – may or may not have eaten more than my share. I went on a walk with my wife, my oldest son, and my dog. I learned the college I love hired a new football coach. And all of this happened in a span of about four hours . . . right here at Christmas.

There’s tension in the air. There’s bad stuff. And there’s stuff that’s beautiful. There’s darkness. There’s light. There’s cancer. There’s funny gifs. There’s the virus. There’s extra family time. There’s abnormal. There’s loving voices on the phone. There’s loneliness. There’s text messages and Zoom. There’s eating too much. There’s the hope of 2021. There’s spending too much. There’s receiving too much. There’s no room in the inn. There’s a stable. There’s the stress of getting to Bethlehem. There’s a baby born. There’s shepherd’s trying to stay awake. There’s the announcement that changes everything. There’s questions of when it will end. There’s the reminder of Advent.

There’s hard. There’s glory. There’s pain. There’s peace.

It’s why He came and the reason for our hope.

Right here at Christmas.