I love Christmas. It is crazy writing that sentence down. Most of my life I hated this time of year. The snow and the lights and the trees all reminded me of sad days long past. But my daughter was born while the snow fell. She and the boy have redeemed much of the wounds of yesteryear.
So now, we have traditions. We go and cut down a tree. We spend a whole day redecorating the house, moving furniture upstairs and down to make room for the boxes of cheer. It is a full day, and one full of much laughter.
Last night, I surfed the internets looking for gifts for those I love. And I watched the cart total go up and up and up. I saved it all for later and went to bed.
I love Christmas. But with all the family functions, with all the binge buying, with all the decorations and beautiful music, it is a fight every year to hold onto Jesus. There is that ubiquitous rhyme, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I have not and will not speak those words out loud, but I nod in agreement at them. The music is supposed to be pointing to the fullness of time. The phrase, “On the earth peace, and goodwill to men” is from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I celebrate the peace the Christ brings. He brings peace between humanity and God Almighty. And that peace does flow down. It makes things new between me and my neighbors. It seems that loving God with all my heart inevitably flows into loving my neighbor as myself. The gift of family, of kindness, of seeing each other with compassion…I am all about this. But this is a by-product. This is the fruit of the tree, not the tree.
So, I am trying to be near Jesus this season of Advent. We are not spending all the money on toys. We are not giving all our time to family meals. There will be the opening of presents on Christmas day, but there will also be a time for song and gratitude for the God who gives all good gifts. And personally, there are some things I am laying down this season. Some distractions that have gotten too large. These things are not evil, but as the man said, “All things are permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope the peace that has been given is being received. I hope you rest in the sufficiency of our Lord and Savior. And I pray that your Christmas is a season of joy, not burden.