Christmas time is here.
We’ve been singing carols, attending parties, bringing good tidings and cheer. Why?
Because it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
At least that’s what the song says, at least that’s what we are trying to make it…most of the time.
As a child, Christmas was filled with anticipation – eagerly awaiting the surprises of Christmas morning. One year, I actually saw Santa in the sky and heard his jingle bells. The magical night was complete with my most prized baby doll waiting under the tree. It truly was the most wonderful memory that year.
But not every year was magical. There was the year that would be the last year our family would all be together. Divorce is not a magical gift. Even if it was my aunt and uncle, it was a major fracture in the fabric of our once tight knit family.
Then there was the year that my sweet Grandma suddenly passed away–the day after Christmas. It’s hard to not celebrate a Christmas and not think about our last days with her.
Then there was the year that we received news that our miracle pregnancy was not viable. It was my first pregnancy and I carried the baby for weeks, trying to accept the probable outcome, but hoping for some miracle. If God could choose Mary to carry the miracle of His Son, then maybe He could choose to let me have my own miracle baby.
Not all Christmas’ are full of wintry forecasts and jolly St. Nicholas. Not all of Christmas is Merry and Bright. Christmas isn’t about creating happiness or painting a picture of perfection. Mary didn’t imagine the birth of her first child in a foreign land surrounded by cattle. The birth of Christ was contrary to a picture of perfection or of great expectations. We miss the point when we find ourselves celebrating our expectations and tradition. We miss the point when we try to re-create happy memories of the past. Christmas isn’t about a day, or even a season.
We feel falsely empowered to create our own sense of tradition and merriment, when in reality without His coming we would have no reason to celebrate. He doesn’t need our perfectly wrapped packages or our well-planned out menu, He is looking for our hearts. Christmas is God’s invitation for us to be part of His story. The story was written long ago, and continues to be written in each of us and the people around us. Maybe He wants to use you in the story of the estranged family member that you haven’t spoken to in years, or maybe it’s the single guy that can’t make it home for the holidays.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle, let us not just celebrate the giving and receiving of gifts, or the family tradition of memory making, let’s pause to celebrate Jesus – for all that He represents. He came for our joy, our sorrow, our delight and our disappointment. He is in all of it. He came to redeem all of it. Love on Him, love on each other, and don’t forget to love on those who are hurting. Because Christmas time is not always the most wonderful time of year.
How has Christmas not been your favorite time of the year? What disappointments or sad memories are part of your Christmas history? Do you need hope this Christmas? If so, how can we be praying for you?