Christmas time is such a wonderful time of the year. In fact, it’s my favorite time of the year. So much to look forward to…the Christmas tree, lights, decorations, fantastic food, Christmas movies, and (of course) great time with family. So many precious memories are created during this season. For all these reasons (and more), I LOVE Christmas!
However, there is a certain occurrence that happens this time of year that is particularly unnerving to me. That is to say, there is such anticipation and buildup to December 25th that inevitably (even for us Christians) there is a tinge of disappointment that follows every Christmas. It’s almost like we were expecting so much more and didn’t get it…or we did so much in preparation for Christmas Day and it’s here and then gone. It seems that after every Christmas we are left disappointed, let down, and looking for more. Can you empathize with me?
So what do we do? How do we approach Christmas without experiencing the shocking tinge of dissatisfaction afterwards? Here are some pastoral thoughts to help:
- Don’t expect your decorations, gifts, and food to accomplish more than they can handle. Some of you are expecting these inanimate objects to bring people together, bind up old wounds, and to bring you (and others) certain joy. Such objects were never meant to bear such a weight of responsibility! Decorations, gifts, and food can facilitate togetherness, but they can’t create it…they can aid in binding up old wounds, but only true forgiveness (extended and received) can actually do this…such items can bring a smile to your face, but only Jesus Christ (the reason for the season…cliché, but true) can bring true joy to your soul.
- Don’t require certain people to emote or respond in certain ways. It is entirely likely that your children will not be grateful for their presents. Don’t burn their gifts as punishment…practice forgiveness instead. It’s quite possible that you will ruin your roast and not meet your high standards of perfection when it comes to that meal. Don’t get frustrated…practice versatility instead. Your spouse or loved one may not have picked up on your very obvious hints in terms of a Christmas present. Don’t punish them with cold stares and snarky comments…practice true love instead. Impossible? No. Just read 1 Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2:1-11.
- Do focus on the One that matters most this Christmas season. Jesus Christ left the splendors of Heaven to become a baby in the womb of Mary. He was born in a humble setting, placed in a feeding trough, and was raised in one of the poorest sections of the Middle East – Nazareth. At the age of 30, He began His public ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing the sick. After a perfectly sinless life, He was executed by order of Pontius Pilate on a Roman cross. On that cross, He died. He was then buried, and three days later, He arose from the dead! Don’t ever tire of this story…it’s the ultimate reason we celebrate Christmas…and it’s the only story that (if believed) can save your life.
- Remember we look back in order to look forward. In other words, Christmas gives to you an opportunity to look back at the first coming of Jesus in order to build within you an excitement for His future Second Coming. Yes, He’s coming back! The first time Jesus came, He came as the meek and mild. But the next time He comes, He will come as the victorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Christmas leaving you hungry and thirsty for more? Look back in gratefulness and look forward in hope and anticipation!