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Always Winter, Never Christmas

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

In a few days we'll awake on Christmas morning. And while there is much to celebrate as we reflect on the miracle of the incarnate Deity, it is also reality that each of us meets Christmas morning unsatiated, in our own way.

Colloquial terminology like “Christmas Blues” and “Holiday Depression” developed as many found themselves feeling temporarily rundown, sad, and anxious during the Christmas season. Our losses and imperfections tend to feel markedly pronounced on our most special days.

Christmas morning often finds us outwardly smiling while inwardly longing.

I remember hearing Tim Keller once say that deep down, each of us knows life should be perfect. Perfection was drawn on the blueprints of our hearts as we were created for Eden’s bliss (Genesis 2). Instead of experiencing Eden, we live where brokenness surrounds us and resides within us. Of course we are longing––we were hardwired to desire wholeness.

Therefore, Christmas celebrations may feel like a hologram, giving us the essence of celebration while lacking holistic depth. Deep down, we know we should have more.

In chapter 10 of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as Mr. Beaver and the children trudge through snow, Mr. Beaver informs Peter the White Witch’s cruel spell on Narnia means it is “always winter and never Christmas” in their world.

Always winter and never Christmas is how so many of us feel this time of year. All that is not right in our lives, in our world, in ourselves, thunders.

We meet Christmas morning holding a sense of gratitude and awe for the incarnation of baby Jesus in one hand and in the other hand we hold profound grief of our countless losses and unfulfilled desires. We hold our financial stressors, our unemployment or underemployment, our lost loved ones, our regrets, our trauma, the unmet desires of our family or friendship realities, the diseases and disorders in our bodies, and so many other wounds. This is the experience of every human heart this Christmas. No wonder so many of us feel like it’s always winter and never Christmas, even on Christmas.

In the early 20th century, biblical theologian Geerhardus Vos presented the theological concept of “already, not yet.” The “already, not yet” paradigm explains the tension of the Christian’s reality as we exist side-by-side with the challenges and truths of the present while simultaneously holding to God’s promises of the future. One example of how we understand this concept is that we, as believers, are “redeemed from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13) meaning, we will not experience permanent death in exchange for our sinfulness (Romans 6:23), since Christ took our place, but of course we know a temporary, earthly death awaits us. And Scripture also tells us that one day, God will obliterate death; death will be no more (Revelation 21:4). So, in one hand we hold the truth that Christ redeemed us from the curse of permanent death and one day death will be no more and in the other hand we hold the truth that we will still experience an earthly death and we will continue to lose those we love. This is how we, as believers, live in the already, not yet reality. On one hand, (in the already) our lived experience as believers is secure and hopeful and on the other hand (in the not yet), our lived experience is still painful and devastating.

If you are not familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan is a lion, the character Lewis created who represents God in the story. And a few paragraphs after Mr. Beaver educates Peter of Narnia’s always-winter-never-Christmas reality, another character enters the scene with words that never leave me dry-eyed: “Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”

If you are experiencing this season as always winter, I want to first normalize your experience and remind you that so many others are feeling this way, too, because deep down we know we were created for wholeness, yet instead find ourselves living amidst constant hardship and brokenness. Living in the not yet, is deeply challenging and many days it feels as though our winter will never end.

And second, I pray that somehow, God might gift you a dose of supernatural hope as you process those words, “Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.” Knowing Revelation 21:4 awaits us, as the end of all death, tears, and brokenness is promised to every believer, I pray that informs our hope to reframe our view, from never Christmas to Christmas is coming.

-Angela Adour, Pastoral Care Director


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