For most of us, Christmas is a season of great joy, family time, and the making of lasting memories. We bake cookies, sing carols, wrap presents, decorates trees and houses, and watch our favorite Christmas movies. In my family, we have certain Christmas traditions that go back as long as I’ve been alive. We always put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We always watch White Christmas and Home Alone. We eat spaghetti on Christmas Eve and only open presents on Christmas day. Christmas, no matter the year, has always created good memories for my family.
Side point: During our Advent series, Pastor Marshall has been reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas.. If you’d like, you can catch up on that series HERE.
While Christmas is a happy time of the year for many people, for others this can be a tough season, especially for those who have lost loved ones. We like (or want) to think Christmas season is the happiest season for all, but we know that isn’t always true. For some, Christmas is a reminder of loved ones lost, financial hardship, or the feeling of immense loneliness. Christmas, for all its good, can remind us of the things we don’t have and also the things we have lost. I don’t mean to be a debbie downer, but there are a lot of hurting people in this world and those pains do not stop simply because it is Christmas season.
If you are like me and you see Christmas as a season of hope, I’d like to encourage you to do a few things. First, look around you. Take a moment and see all the blessings, large or small, God has given you and give thanks. It’s easy to get caught up in the lore and traditions of Christmas and forget that “every good and perfect gift comes from above”. What I’ve learned, yet again, this Advent season is we wouldn’t be here, at least not in a spiritual sense, without a savior who came in the form of a baby to save the world from itself. Christmas would mean nothing without Christ, and I know how easily it is to forget that crucial point.
Secondly, while you are looking around at the blessings God has bestowed on you, look further and pay close attention to those people near you who may be in pain or who are lonely.Chances are someone you know desperately needs to be reminded they are loved. It could be a coworker, a neighbor, or a even a fellow Red Hills family member. You don’t have to lavish them with gifts, but a kind word and just taking a moment to show them you care, can do wonders in a person’s life.
Finally, if you are one of those people who struggle to find joy during the Christmas season, please know you are not alone. In Matthew chapter one the Angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus, and that he would be called Immanuel (God with us). For the first time in human history (since the Fall) God himself would dwell among his people. He was no longer a God in heaven, but now a God on this physical earth as well. He would be both human and God, and because of this he would have a unique connection with the human condition. Jesus saw those suffering around him. He came in daily contact with their pain and sorrow. He saw the lame and healed their wounds. He comforted the widows and gave strength to the weak. His mission on earth was to lessen the burden of the downtrodden and give hope to the hopeless. And that mission has not changed.
Later, after his death and resurrection, he tells the disciples that,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus is Immanuel. He is with us. And while you may not feel him, and perhaps you even believe he’s abandoned you, know he’s there, at all times and in all situations. He is God with us. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, our Deliverer, Redeemer, Savior, and Messiah. He is our King. He sees your pain and desires for you to take refuge under his wings.
My prayer for everyone this Christmas season is that we would be reminded of the type of God we serve. Christmas is not just about a virgin birth and a baby in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. It’s a reminder that our God came to save his creation as a baby, left as a King, and on his finial return will one day end all pain and sorrow.
This is a season of hope.
Hallelujah (Light Has Come)