As I prepared to write about the joy of Christmas, I was reminded of how HARD Christmas can be.
I want all the family together. I want to give amazing gifts. I want to prepare mouthwatering recipes that will be requested for years to come. I want…well, I want “perfect.” Thing is, life’s not perfect. Families certainly aren’t.
As if a “perfect” family Christmas wasn’t enough of a challenge, there is so much to DO in December: Christmas plays and concerts, visiting Santa, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, company dinners and Christmas parades. The list of things to do and places to be is endless.
Now, add to ALL that the social stress that comes with living in a country where not everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christians are offended when stores promote “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We remind everyone that CHRISTmas is about CHRIST, but do we really believe that? Have we bought into the world’s version of Christmas? I’m afraid we have.
I think that we have made Christmas about family, Santa, gifts and feasts. I think that we celebrate Christmas just like “the world” does…. and, I think that is the real root of all the stress and anxiety we feel at Christmas.
Maybe you’re thinking “Not me. I know that Christmas is about Jesus.”
If you aren’t sure where you stand on this, here are the questions I asked myself earlier this week:
If there was no tree and no twinkling lights, would it still feel like Christmas?
If there were no presents, would it still feel like Christmas?
If there was no family, would it still feel like Christmas?
If ALL you had was Jesus’s birthday to celebrate and had no one to celebrate it with, would it still feel like Christmas?
If not, then you’ve put something else where Christ should be. I realized that I have done just that.
So, my prayer for you this Christmas is that you will join me at the manger, rest there and let the miracle of our Savior’s birth overwhelm you; spend time under the stars and imagine what it must have been like for the shepherds when the sky filled with angels proclaiming Jesus’s birth; experience “Emmanuel, God with us” for yourself. It is my prayer that you, like Mary, will treasure THESE things in your heart.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2: 6-20 (NIV)