Christmas week has started!
School is out of session, Christmas is only days away, and everyone is hustling and bustling with the busyness of the Christmas season…
Oh, Christmas Week! You have so much potential! You hold the hopes of merriment, joy, happiness, hopefulness, and much goodness. But there is a dark side to this potential. Because as sure as we may be that THIS Christmas will be the one, the one where the question is finally popped, or when that one gift is finally given, or that one relationship is renewed, we open ourselves up to the possibility that the questions will not be asked and may never be, that the nice gift we’ve been waiting for is still beyond the budget, and that relationship will never be the same as it was. And this dashing, or perhaps, crumbling, or maybe just slight ebbing away of what we were planning can create in us a holiday melancholy.
Most of us, are beyond the point where we can longer hear Santa’s bell. Some of us are near the spot where Christmas is turning into a burden rather than a joy, especially when our well-laid plans are interrupted by sickness or some other unexpected trouble.
This is the week where we can feel duped by the Christmas spirit, much like Cub fans who year after year let hope for a pennant spring up again only to be dashed in the early autumn. We may have started this season with a renewed hope. “Maybe this Christmas my plans will actually fall into place! I might actually get my family photos out this year. Maybe this Christmas my kids will appreciate their presents! Maybe this year our family meal will be peaceful!” This is the week where those hopes are laid on the line and put to the test.
And, not to be the voice of doom, but there is a good chance that our expectations will not be met. And there is a very good reason for that which has nothing to do with the festivities of Christmas. It has much more to do with how God created us. From our very beginning we were designed to return to Heaven and the presence of God.
Much like a baby sea turtle who instinctively goes to the water upon hatching from it’s egg, we have an internal longing for a perfect world filled with joy and peace, where every need is met and we spend our time celebrating true good. This longing inside of us is what makes Christmas resonate so deeply within us. But it is not a longing for Christmas that we are responding to. It is a longing for Heaven, our true home. It is a longing to be with God, who is the true giver of good gifts and who can really, truly, restore what has gone wrong.
Christmas traditions and festivities are WONDERFUL! I think we should all delight in them as much as possible. It is good to celebrate Christ’s coming in a happy way with loved ones. It is fabulous to be extra generous to both strangers and neighbors. It is fitting that we look to reconcile with loved ones during such a happy season.
Let’s keep in mind, however, that we are still living on Earth, and not yet in Heaven. Eventually, we will get to that perfect place, and there will be face to face with a God who gives good, perfect gifts. Eventually we will find that holy grail of Christmas magic, where, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
This Christmas, lets remember that there is nothing wrong with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, so long as we keep in mind that Christmas is not really the place where all our dreams come true. We are designed to long for Heaven. When you are tempted to feel depressed, blue, sad, angry, frustrated, or disappointed, remember that Christmas here on Earth can never fulfill that longing that we have because, “…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3.20)
I wish you the best Christmas season ever! I hope you enjoy it to the fullest! May it be a reminder, a sampling of sorts of what will be the best “Christmas morning” ever, when we awake from the sleep of death and stare with wide-eyed amazement that we are in the presence of the Babe of Christmas, the King of Christmas, our Savior and Lord.