Christmas is in the air and all around us. I was singing to Frosty this morning in the car. Christmas is one of the hardest times of the year for most people. With all snobbery intended, I think Christmas is 100% fun and happy for only those who have not yet suffered (emphasis on yet). Christmas is a time we remember those who have gone before us, a time when families pressure us to visit and love them despite their utter unloveableness, a time where we realize that we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to this year, a time we realize that the (spouse, child, job, health) we prayed would be here by now, is not. Why does Christmas bring about such anxiety, depression, loneliness, heartache?
One answer is that our expectations are wrong – we are sold a false sense of joy and excitement by commercials and movies; that Christmas is just another day like any other. I think that the longing and feeling of unrest comes from a different place and is entirely appropriate. Christmas is a day that brings hope – a Savior being born – God incarnate (John 1:14), born to save men from their sins (Matthew 1:21). On Christmas we remember this miracle, but we also see that the plan is not yet complete. We wake up and the world seems the same – poverty, famine, sickness, death, violence. We are reminded that this is not our home (2 Cor 5:8). We are strangers in this strange dark land wandering (Exo 2:22), trying to find the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13).
Jesus enters this broken world full of hopelessness and offers hope – today is born a savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11) (can’t help but hear Linus as I write that). The hope is real and present. TODAY you can be saved by him. His work is finished (John 19:30). The world is net yet redeemed, but it will be. You can be redeemed today. For those of us who are already, we can remember the beauty and wonder of that Christmas day so long ago; rejoice in the assurance that Jesus has saved us; and long for the day when we shall rejoice in his appearing (2 Tim 4:8).
If Christmas leaves me unsettled, that’s ok. Our hope and delight is not in this world. No amount of warm fires, hot chocolate, gifts, family unity and world peace will be able to overcome the longing in my soul to be united in full fellowship with my Savior.