I realize that the last time I did a German word it was...also not a very nice one, and I promise that next time I use German it will be a more fun word, because it really is, despite its reputation for harshness, a very beautiful language. But that is next time; this time, the word is weltschmerz. It is an amalgamation of the words for 'world' and 'pain', meaning the sense of weariness and hurt that one gets from thinking about the state of the world. It was coined by an author, Jean Paul, in 1827, in a novel he wrote, and ended up entering the common vernacular.
I talked some about this Sunday, and wanted to talk about it some more, going into our Blue Christmas service this coming Sunday and then into the week of Christmas itself.
Sometimes, around Christmas, it seems...empty? Seems like it's just a commercialized shell rather than the joyful holiday it should be, rather than the celebration of the birth of Christ it's meant to be. It seems like everyone gets caught up in the shopping and the songs and the decorations, and forget that this is the birth of all humanity's Savior that we're awaiting.
Or, it's empty in another way; seems like there's no point to being happy, when the world's on fire (sometimes literally) all around us. Empty in the sense that we can't possibly see what's worth rejoicing about; that is where the use of the word weltschmerz comes in, I think. Because sometimes it's so hard to see beyond the night to the sunrise, beyond the sunset to the stars, beyond the darkness to the dawn.
Sometimes it's so hard, through the pain of the world and our own lives, to remember that Christ is with us. That Christ is coming, is always coming, but is also always here with us, in every moment and every difficulty and every trial.
The pain we feel is valid and natural, and not something that's going to go away. The world will not become perfect overnight. But we are so much more than that pain, so much more than the trials we go through and the mistakes we make, and that is what Advent season and Christmas should remind us of.