The Christmas season, as colorful and joyful as it can be, is often a depressing time for me. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. Pushing and shoving all around, even Santa has a frown, boy I just can’t wait, ‘till next year!” Ok, maybe I am a little cynical.
I know it’s about keeping Christ in Christmas. I know it’s about the Incarnation of God in the manger. I know that the end isn’t the manger but the cross. I know that when focused on its true meaning, Christmas has a fullness of celebration that can rapture the heart toward heaven. I know all this, but in my heart there is a heaviness that lies just beneath the surface, bringing a deep unsatisfying sigh.
Maybe it’s because in the midst of the celebration there is so much façade and pain. We drove by a house last evening, where there were more blow up Christmas decorations than could be found at the Macy’s Day Parade. And last night a friend’s grandfather died without Jesus. Celebration – hunger, celebration – death, celebration – oppression, celebration – abuse, celebration – anger, unforgiveness, resentment, and…sigh.
However, the Christmas scene is idyllic. It is presented as calm, peaceful, unaffected by the chaos in the world, but that isn’t a right and true picture. That first Christmas was crowded streets, pushing and shoving, no room for a pregnant girl, coarse bedding—puuussshhh. That’s right breath….puuuusssshhhhh. The baby’s delivered – crying, tears, joy. Now there are unexpected visitors, crowding in to see a promise. Smelly sheep and shepherds…exhaustion. And the world is oblivious that Christ has been put into Christmas.
Maybe the heaviness is because in the midst of the celebration there is so much suffering, and I can’t do anything to abate it; it marches on before, during, and after Christmas. Yet, that is the message of Christmas, a hurting world incapable of fixing itself, and God becomes man. The message of Christmas is God dwelling among men to identify with our suffering and taking on the penalty of our sin with the hope of salvation.
That’s It! The message of Christmas isn’t happiness, parties, and good times! The message of Christmas is HOPE! It’s a message of the hope of redemption, the hope of healing, the hope of freedom, and the hope of eternal life! The exaltation and sigh of my heart, is God’s heart. Yes, we can celebrate this Christmas, even in the midst of suffering, because there is hope. I’m just saying…