Well Friends, it’s finally here…the most wonderful time of the year…I’ve been waiting and ready for it in my heart since the last week of October…patiently restraining myself as the anticipation built, and exercising moderate self-control as the deals began rolling in. And now it’s here…it’s finally here…(well December…and as far as I’m concerned…that means Christmas with a booked-solid calendar and endless eating affairs)…the stocking’s are hung, the gifts are in hiding (for the most part), I fear my husband is already border-line sick of my Christmas playlist, and the tree adorned with lights and balls, shining in all her glory. So why, I’m asking myself, am I left with this empty feeling of “blah” in the pit of my soul?
Maybe you can relate, it’s like everything is magical for a brief moment, and then suddenly…it’s just a list of tasks and endless chores…where is the joy? I really had to stop and ask myself that tonight, and here’s what I found: my heart wasn’t all that different from the one’s that were going about their business in Jesus’ day. You see, when Christ was born, there was no earthly processional to announce Him, no grand room prepared at a palace, not even a pillow to lay His head on…a King had entered their midst, but very few responded to the announcement of His arrival. Now it wasn’t for lack of wanting/seeking a King that He was missed by most, rather a misplaced perception of what this long-awaited Savior and King would look like. Most were looking for an earthly King to set up his kingdom and to usher in a time of political success and peace, (not so different from most hearts today) so when Jesus arrived on the scene, as a baby born in the humblest of states and to an unwed mother at that, they were not in the least bit interested in this King whose Kingdom was not of this earth. The gift had arrived, but the packaging was less than they desired.
By now you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with me and the blah feeling I’ve been having. Well, I’m glad you asked, because I’m about to tell you. While I absolutely love everything Christmas brings, and the wonderful traditions, memories and moments had…in all reality, these things are not enough to sustain joy in my heart. Do they bring smiles, goosebumps, tears, laughter, warm feelings and fun? Absolutely! But after those brief moments fade away into the background – is there a lasting joy in my heart? The answer to that, I’m afraid, is no. It’s not that any of these things are bad, but on their own they can ever so subtly erode away at the real meaning of Christmas. These things are wonderful, and I look forward to anticipating them every year, but in all honesty, I must ask myself if it’s these temporary pleasures that I’ve built my joy and anticipation around, or if it’s something more. If the focus of this season is nothing more than memories, traditions, and fleeting moments than I will surely find myself in much the same position as the men and women of Jesus day…missing the true gift in exchange for something of temporary, tangible nature…something that looks good on the outside but is nothing more than pretty paper and shiny bows, lacking lasting substance inside…and even more-so if one of those external elements shift.Christmas is so much more than pretty packages & bow; Christmas is the eternal gift of Christ. Click To Tweet
So if Christ is the true gift of Christmas, I must ask myself: why? Well, Jesus never showed up on the scene to create an earthly Kingdom; His vision was much larger than that. Christ came to bring us the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth; He came to teach us the constitution of that place…and to show us another way of living…one governed not from outer laws, but from within our hearts written by His very own Spirit…one of love, of humility, of recognizing our need for Him, of mercy, peace, and right-living. He came to bring hope to our hearts…to show us that we are never alone, that He is always with us, and that His grace is more than enough to cover our weaknesses, faults, and failures.
He came to bring hope…not hope for something outward that could be here one day and gone the next…but hope that is constant through every circumstance, shifting, and seasons-change. And that my friends, is something that we all need…a gift that can not be purchased, packed up, and placed underneath a tree….the gift of hope for our souls.
Maybe, just maybe, in all of the tiptoeing and dismissing of all things Christ at Christmas; in the midst of depression, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, disappointment, political unrest, and the inner struggles that we all battle, we’ve overlooked the One thing that holds the answer to it all. Perhaps, it’s time to shift our expectations off of our earthly governments, our programs, our self-help strategies, our coping mechanisms, and even our traditions and memories…and shift them onto something of an eternal nature that holds the hope, love, peace and lasting joy that we’re all searching for…perhaps it’s time to return to a dirty old manger and seek the face of a newborn King.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” ~ Matthew 1:23