The days leading up to Christmas are always special. The whole world makes an excuse to take off work, eat more sugar, sing happy songs, be social around family, and even attend church. December 25th is the day to be happy, joyful, more reflective, and jolly (you would think something special happened on that day).
Then December 26th happens and a reality sets in. The happiest day of the year is over. Now we have to go back to work, back to a routine, shovel the awful snow out of our driveways, and go back to existing. What a crock. I can't believe the magic of the season is so temporary.
I truly believe that Christmas time is about the birth of Christ and the promise of God is with us, but the biggest lie of the season is NOT the consumerism and gifts. The biggest lie is that Jesus' birth only grants temporary feelings of hope. The life of a Christian is all about hope!
Hope of Peace:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
Jesus speaks into the lives of his followers and declares that fear and trouble are not the controlling emotions of life. Those who follow him are connected to the truth that God is always with us. When you believe that someone smarter and more powerful than you is with you, there are few things that will truly ruin your day or cause despair. He is with us even if the radio stops playing Christmas music.
Hope of Rest:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28
The days leading up to Christmas are the most restful (if you don't have to plan the parties). Christmas Eve and Christmas are the greatest promises not to work. But what if I told you there was a spiritual rest in our souls that could follow us to work? Jesus promises that rest is for those who choose his ways over the world. He is looking at all of our needless worries and futile attempts to get ahead in the world and is confident that his agenda for our life is less complicated and messy.
Hope of Joy:
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22
There's joy when a child unwraps a gift and finds the toy they hoped they were getting. There's joy in watching a classic Christmas movie in your pajamas. But what about the joy that a close friend and savior will unite with us? That is the effect Jesus had on his followers. When they were with him they felt powerful, united, and bonded over a kingdom that is perfect. When Jesus had to leave them to be with the father, they felt sorrow because they believed that someone so good for the soul and perfect for life was too good to last. It was only Jesus' resurrection from the grave that returned the joy to all his followers. This joy is permanent in the lives of Christ's followers because it is tethered to one who cannot die and who cannot stop loving you. It's a promise that every day is with someone who cares for you.
If you ask me, Christmas should not be about Christ's birth. Someone who was brought into our world with such divinity, power, intelligence, promises, and riches should not be tied to a holiday that is so temporary and fabricated. Maybe we should celebrate Jesus' life in July with a barbecue and a church-wide game of "find the baby in the manger." That's a tough sell.
December 26th will promise us troubles, hardships, doubt, and anxiety. That will always be the truth and the Christmas feeling can't take that away. For us who believe, Jesus is with us now and that means eternal joy, peace, and rest.