So It Begins…

Thanksgiving is over. The leftovers are still plentiful – turkey, stuffing, candied yams, maybe even a few pieces of pecan pie. Yes, that awkward dinner with the in-laws – or as I remember my dad wearing a name tag marked “Outlaw” at a family reunion – and life continues. As usual, there is no shortage of things to do, but those tasks are different around this time.

Some of you at this point will have done what some consider psychotic: gone Black Friday shopping; or what some consider the more logical activity of staying home and buying online. Regardless, there is a change taking place, because it’s time to move on to “THAT” time of year. Afterall, Christmas is a time of joy and peace; it’s time to celebrate with all the Christmas parties, the shopping, the gifts, the special worship services, and so on. Yes, I know, the list goes on as you prepare for 2 out of the 365 days of the year – December 24th and 25th – Christmas, and maybe 3 if you take into consideration January 1st – New Year’s Day, but I guess, don’t push it, right? Again, I’m sure many of you can make a lengthy list of duties for the Time of Christmas, and it may even come to an end eventually.

For a great many people this season is nothing but joy and excitement. After all, songs are played on our iPhones, the radio, and in stores across the world proclaiming messages that this is “the most wonderful time of the year,” and songs about different kinds of bells, and letting it snow. Parties, great gifts to be gifted, you’ll most likely receive one or two gifts yourself, and we will get to celebrate the greatest gift given to mankind, the greatest gift of all time: the Christ Child. For this same child will grow to be crucified for your forgiveness and resurrected for your justification. What isn’t there to celebrate? Right? Hello?

Unfortunately, for some this isn’t the greatest time of year, maybe even least wonderful time of the year. This may include you, or someone you know. Why? The sun sets far too early and darkness overshadows everything we do; there are people who consider “snow” and “cold” those type of four-letter words; it may be for financial reasons. Some may not have money to buy gifts for their families; or you don’t have the kind of money for the kind of gifts on all the wish lists – though you would love to get them that new, popular “thing-a-majig” – but it’s just not affordable. Or maybe this is the first time you’ll celebrate without your spouse, or parent, or even a child, crying out a different Christmas song: Baby, please come home…

I know, the weight seems immense for many of us. It’s as if you can’t climb out of a great hole with a huge burden on your back as this season seems to bring this time of year. Whether you like it or not, the reality still always stands: there is nothing you can do to stop or quicken the clock. It’s a harsh reality.

However, amongst all the “humbug” and “hoopla,” I want to point you back to the greatest gift I mentioned earlier, Jesus, the Christ Child. It’s good to take note here this season is not celebrated for Jesus sake. At Christmas Jesus doesn’t come for Himself, nor the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn’t come for himself. Jesus comes down from heaven for you. He comes to bring true joy and peace which isn’t found in Christmas music or gifts, or any of the things that will eventually break and disappoint us. Instead, He comes to shed His blood and give His body on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. He comes to bring you hope at a time where it seems all the heaviness of life piles higher and higher: He gives you the gift of His resurrection and the promise of your own resurrection one day.

Jesus came that first Christmas long ago, born for sinners, born for the poor in spirit, born for the downtrodden, born for the depressed, born for the poor of pocketbook, born for you. This is what the love of God looks like: descending from heaven, bloodiness, sacrifice, resurrection. Yes, those things that look like despair and lack any glory actually do something for you. They give you eternal forgiveness and life.

So, for those who find this time as happy, “MERRY CHRISTMAS! PARTY ON, DUDE!” But for those of you who seem to lack joy and feel depressed, I say to you: do not lose heart nor hope, do not fear, for Christ is your Lord. He WILL ABSOLUTELY carry you during all times of your life, even now. Have sure and certain hope in the life to come, where you will be delivered from all the sorrow and fear to a place of complete peace and true joy. Remember this fact: YOU ARE THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! Let no one tell you any different.