Do chestnuts roasting on the fire make you break out in hives? Does the holiday hustle find you hiding under the covers? Do the weeks leading up to the most wonderful time of the year fill you with anxiety and stress? You just might be experiencing the true meaning of Christmas. Now, I know this is not really what we want to hear. We would rather find a blog about ways to reduce our holiday stress. We would rather listen to advice on crafting our Christmas to be more restful. We long for something that will transform our Christmas preparations to reflect that serene Hallmark holiday.
According to the ancient Christian Faith, the coming of Jesus should make people a little crazy. Once upon a time, there was a guy who was an expert on Christmas season stress: John the Baptist. Yes, Jesus was coming. But it wasn’t as simple as looking for a cute little baby glowing in a manger. John came first, and his Christmas mission was to make us all very uncomfortable.
This is the reason for the stress of the Advent season. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ by uncovering the ugly realities of those who were to receive the Word made Flesh. Greed lurked within each and every heart. Anger and division tore families apart. Time was squandered. False gods were exalted. The poor were forgotten, and the meek were pressed down. Death lashed out, and threatened all who didn’t believe. Repent, John screamed, for the peaceful Christmas Day was near.
This time before Christmas is the time before the celebration—the “not yet” of our joy. Christmas songs have not yet escaped our lips. Christmas presents have not yet been opened. The feast of Christmas Day has not yet been eaten. We wait impatiently for the Christmas celebration to begin, but it is not yet here.
So, it is fitting that this time before Christmas still uncovers many ugly realities in those who expect to celebrate the Word made Flesh. We see greed lurk within each and every heart. We feel anger and divisions that tear our families apart. Time is squandered. False gods are exalted. The poor are forgotten and the meek are pressed down. Death lashes out, reminding us of the loved ones who are lost. Darkness shines deeper in direct contrast to our hope of a peaceful Christmas Day.
We will soon celebrate that Jesus has entered our story. Even when the stress of the season still hangs around our necks, we will shout that Jesus was born to take it away. Christmas songs will resound from our lips. Christmas presents will be freely given and opened with great joy. The feast of Christmas Day will be enjoyed again by the saints of God.
For now, my friends, do not be ashamed take your time in this “not yet” Christmas season. Spend a minute deep in the pain. Step back to recognize the darkness that overwhelms your heart. Slow down and consider those whom you have hurt and failed to help. Lament that your rest is not yet here , and wait expectantly for Him to come.
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!