This time of year, I usually hear it all:
"I can't wait for Christmas to be over."
"I don't really celebrate Christmas."
"I just don't have the Christmas spirit." Or even...
"I hate Christmas."
I can't help but pity those poor souls that feel that way. They've really missed the whole point.
Now, I worked in retail for four years, and I am fully aware of the craziness that this time of year brings. It's easy to lose your joy when dealing with crabby customers that care only about finding that one frivolous item on their list. And it's not uncommon for those workers that are dealing with the public, the clutter, the rush, etc. to get frustrated and be ready for the whole thing to be done.
Believe me, I know how hard it can be to sing "Joy to the World" in those situations.
And I also know that the commercialism that has swept over this country and this holiday can be disheartening. I hear the stories: parents spending hundreds of dollars on gifts that their kids don't really need; kids demanding certain items on their Christmas list, despite the "toys" already crowding their bedrooms; businesses pushing their products so that the CEOs can get a nice, big, fat bonus. It makes you want to crawl in a hole sometimes and just wait for the season to go by, rather than participate in any of it.
But, I decided some time back that I was not going to let shallow people taint my holiday. How could I when I consider what this holiday is really all about?
Thousands of years ago, this world fell. Sin entered and man embraced it. The perfect plan that God had laid out was discarded and He was rejected. Hate, disease, pain, and heartache came as a result. People were dying in their sins. The sacrificial lambs that they presented just were not enough. Their sins required death--their death. Sin soils the soul and makes it unfit for Heaven. To recompense for that sin, they deserved death.
And that's when Jesus comes in. You see, He came to this world as that sacrificial Lamb, so that we wouldn't have to die for the sins that we committed. He took on our guilt Himself.
So that baby that we always sing about at Christmastime? Think about it. That baby had been prophesied for thousands of years. People were beginning to doubt it would happen. "They've been saying that for years!" But a few hung on to hope. A few believed that God would keep His promise. That He would send His perfect Son to stand in our place so that we would have hope of overcoming sin.
And He did. That precious baby was born, carried by a virgin mother so no one could mistake His origin. He came humbly to this world, slept in a hay trough, surrounded by farm animals. His earthly parents had very little to offer Him. After all this waiting and anticipation, it seemed that very few were even aware of or cared about his arrival.
Except for a few worn, dirty shepherds in the hills. And a few wealthy, wise men from a far land. And a host of Heavenly beings singing His praises. And a heavenly Father who watched as His plan of salvation began to unfold.
This baby, that precious, perfect infant, had one purpose in this world. To die. For us. Picture the babies in your life right now. Picture their sweet faces, their tiny fists, their wide open eyes. Picture their parents with such joy and anticipation for their future.
Now picture Jesus entering the world like that. But His future was already laid out. He was born, literally, just so He could die 33 years later. And it was all for us, so that we could be cleansed and restored.
When I put it into perspective like that, it doesn't matter what the world is doing around me. It makes me sad, for their sakes, that they've missed the real meaning of Christmas. It bothers me that they've missed out on celebrating Christmas to its fullness. Oh, they may get the gifts they were scrambling for. And they may enjoy time spent with their family. But, are they really able to embrace the full meaning and depth of this holiday?
For me, this whole season is a celebration of my Savior, a chance to reflect on all He has given me. It's a chance for me to bask in the love and favor of my Lord who was willing to come to this earth just so He could take my sins and shame, and die in my place.
So, this time of year continues to be a blessing to me. I enjoy all aspects of it. The family memories. The reading of His birth in the Bible. The church programs. The baking. And yes, even the shopping and gift exchange. I love it all. It doesn't ruin my Christmas if it gets a little busy, or if I come across a crabby shopper. Or if I can't find that one gift I was hoping to give. Or if my class suddenly forgets all the school rules and start acting like a den of monkeys. Because, in the end, that's not what matters.
What matters is that my Savior loved me enough to come to this world and save me. And for that, I will always love Christmas.
God bless you this Christmas! I hope you are able to fully embrace the meaning of the season. I pray that you will always be safe, warm, and happy...
In His Grip!