Christmas music. Bright twinkling lights. Homes decked with boughs of holly. Stockings hung with care. Candy Canes. Ornamented trees. Yule logs. Warmth of a glowing fire. Shopping. Presents. St. Nick. Beautiful tables set for bountiful feasts. Sleigh rides. Hallmark. Hot chocolate. Family and friends. Holiday cheer. Peace, love, and joy. Happy holidays. Some would say this is what Christmas is about, and yet for some, these things are elusive. They are missing beloved family members. Money is tight so presents are not so present. Bountiful feasts are simple meals. Heat has been shut-off. Any peace, love, or joy only comes from things like these and is fleeting at best.
It’s not that these things are wrong to experience, but this is what Christmas time is about for a secular world. These are the things they cling to, the things they try to manufacture. They attempt to conjure up the warm and fuzzies in any way they can. Even we, as Christ followers, can too easily fall into this trap. Yes, we acknowledge Jesus as being the reason for the season, but we want Christmas time to be about the warm and fuzzies as well. The truth is, Jesus entered into history during a difficult time and in a difficult way.
God had been silent with His people, Israel, due to their sin. Multiple nations had ruled over them and now Rome was oppressing them. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law" (Gal. 4:4). Mary and Joseph struggled with Mary being pregnant outside of marriage. A long journey to Bethlehem for a young woman close to delivering. No room at the inn, so a stable would have to suffice. Swaddling cloths and a manger. Nothing was easy or grandiose. A short while later, a great slaughter of babies by a jealous king. Not much peace, love, and joy save for some shepherds, wisemen, and the infant’s parents.
But what Christmas should do for us is bring us hope. Hope, that amidst the most difficult trials and circumstances, we can have deeply rooted, everlasting peace, love, and joy because a baby was born 2000+ years ago who would live the perfect life we could never live and then die a death we could never die, as a sacrifice for our sins. Furthermore, He would be buried but raised on the third day, conquering death and sin, and because of this, offering forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who would believe in Him. With these truths anchoring our souls, now we can enjoy any peripherals of Christmas in a way that adds to, not detracts from, the true meaning of Christmas hope.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28–30).
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