The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. – Isaiah 9:2
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. – Ephesians 2:14
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people. – Luke 2:10
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. – Jude 1:21
“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.” I think I have heard these words at least once a day from friends and family since the day after Thanksgiving, when the holiday season began. At first, I was quick to agree. It was easy to reply with “yeah, this year has been the worst.” Friends and family alike have lost their jobs, lost their homes, experienced death of a loved one, been quarantined to their home for months on end, and we had to adjust to a way of life unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. In March, when we all told ourselves we could “make it through” four to six weeks, but couldn’t wait to get back to “normal.” We were looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, 40 weeks later, the official length of a full-term pregnancy, we are staring down the beginning of a new year where nothing looks that different. We are all held captive in some way; whether it be loss, fear, grief, addiction, shame, or Covid-19.
These things make winter seem especially dark this year. Christmas lights don’t quite glisten the way they have in my memory. I won’t be gathering around a huge tree singing carols with my neighbors or opening my home for my annual Christmas party. Every time I leave my home, I calculate the risk I am taking not just for myself, but for my family. I have to stop and ask myself, “Are these things what make it feel like Christmas?”
The more I think about Christmas and what Christmas is “supposed to” feel like, the more I realize my own false reality of what Christmas is about. Admittedly, I had traded a rescue operation for a birthday party. My love of buying gifts, hosting parties, and celebrating every moment I can took over the truth that Christ entered this world in an extremely dark and oppressive time in history. Mary and Joseph had to report for a census under an oppressive government (Luke 2) and Herod commanded every male child under the age of two be killed.
I am not saying it is wrong to celebrate with a birthday party, but rather I want to make sure I understand why I am celebrating. More than a birthday party, we are celebrating that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only son to rescue us from eternity without Him (John 3:16) and to bring hope to His people who saw none.
When it just doesn’t feel like Christmas, join me in remembering.
Because of Jesus Christ we have:
HOPE: the people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2)
PEACE: He shall be peace (Ephesians 2:14)
JOY: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people (Luke 2:10)
LOVE: Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:21) When we remember this, it begins to feel like Christmas and suddenly the Christmas lights shine a little bit brighter.
Reflection: In what ways has Jesus been a rescuer for you this year? What ideas about Christmas do you need to surrender to remember the true meaning of celebration?