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Look Up!

For some reason, I have pot pie on the brain.

It might be because it's about 8 billion below here in Minnesota today and something made of gravy and crust sounds really good. It might be that at least two of my Facebook friends have felt it necessary to mention their pot pie consumption in the last few days. It might be that I just came home from the grocery store—an experience that always makes me hungry for a magically delicious meal that never seems to materialize from what I pull out of the bags.

But I think the real reason I have pot pie on my mind is that it's one of those ultimate comfort foods. And this time of year, I could use some comfort.
Christmas is a week away and I haven't done a thing to get ready. Part of my logic is that we're going to visiting family for the week, so why bother dressing up the house for the cat to enjoy? But I've also found that my Christmas spirit is kind of shot this year. It has been a rough year for so many people I love—death, disease, and divorce seem to keep showing up in our e-mail inbox—and I find my heart is far too heavy to get excited about shopping and baking and decorating.

I just want someone to come over and make me a pot pie so I can warm up—emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Even if I wasn't feeling the weight of the pain in my friend's lives, I think I'd still be having a hard time getting into Christmas. It always sneaks up on me and I find myself having to decide just how big a deal I can make about the whole affair and still ring in the New Year with a little sanity left. And the older I get, the less up I am for the challenge.

It's so easy to let Christmas become old hat—a series of errands and parties and meals and requirements that have long-since lost their luster. For those who have suffered during the year—and who hasn't in some way?—Christmas can feel like a cruel joke in which everyone around you celebrates while you grieve. It's no wonder we are so quickly crushed by the social and emotional pressures of the holidays.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once preached an Advent sermon in which he referenced a crisis going on in his home country at the time. A group of miners had been trapped below ground and the whole country was holding its collective breath waiting for them to be rescued. Bonhoeffer spoke of the season of Advent as a time of waiting, like these miners, for rescue.

He said, "Look up you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by the events and changes on the surface of this earth. Look up, you who turned away from heaven to this ground because you had become disillusioned. Look up, you whose eyes are laden with tears, you who mourn the loss of all that the earth has snatched away. Look up, you who cannot lift your eyes because you are so laden with guilt. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. Something different than you usually see daily, something more important, something infinitely grater and more powerful is taking place."

I first read this sermon a few years ago and clearly I ought to hang it from my Christmas tree. It is a beautiful reminder that this season is one in which we celebrate our rescue—from death, from disease, from divorce, and even from the demands of the season. Our Redeemer arrived and pulled us out of the darkness in which we were trapped. Whether my eyes are laden with tears or just fixed on this earth, the reminder to look up is something that never gets old. It is the ultimate comfort.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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