Christmas was approaching. The halls and malls were decked with boughs of holly, and Christmas carols played everywhere I went. I should have been feeling warm and cheery. I should have been joyful, but I was not in a holiday spirit. My thoughts were consumed with all the chaos and challenging situations in our immediate family. I felt agitated and saddened at the thoughts of another Christmas gathering marred by the stress of it all. Then I thought, that kind of mess and chaos is precisely why Jesus came that first Christmas!
The concept we hold in our minds of Christmas is of Santa Claus, lots of presents under the tree, stockings full of goodies and secret treasures, anxious anticipation of Christmas morning, and warm fuzzy thoughts of Christmases past when we were children.
As adults we continue to look for that – to re-create that scenario – and each year we are disappointed when it isn’t that way. We seek something that is based on a fairy tale.
Scripture says, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). It is time to put away childish things, such as our concept of what Christmas is supposed to be; our expectations of those warm, fuzzy feelings. Christmas is not about those. It never was. The reality of Christmas is something different.
The world was in chaos when Jesus was born. The people were oppressed by a heavy-handed government; His family was in a distressed situation, and the conditions of His birth were less than desirable. In fact, the circumstances that Christmas were extremely stressful.
Months before, Mary found herself in a questionable position that left her open to criticism, judgment, and an uncertain future. Even though an angel had come and told her what was going to happen, many questions must have disturbed her.
Joseph was confused, hurt, troubled, and not sure what he should do. And, on top of all that, his taxes were due. This meant that he not only had to pay money he didn’t really have, but he also had to make a long trip with a very pregnant wife and most likely was worried about what might happen along the way. His mind had to have been filled with a lot of “what-ifs.”
Once they arrived in Bethlehem, they had no place to stay, and Mary was in hard labor. How anxious they must they have been about that situation! What were they going to do?
Into all that chaos, uncertainty, and many unanswered questions, Jesus came. Into all of that darkness and heaviness, He came to bring light and hope. When Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men looked into the face of the Christ Child, it didn’t matter that He was born in a barn or that there were so many unanswered questions. There was joy even in the midst of uncertainty. There was hope in His arrival.
So, amid our chaos, unfulfilled dreams, disappointments, uncertainty concerning our futures, stress over finances, and anxiety, Jesus comes to bring us hope. He comes to lift our burdens, to offer us guidance, to give us joy in place of the spirit of heaviness, to present us peace.
It is time to lay down our childish thoughts of what Christmas should be or used to be. To continue to hold that view causes us to be disappointed year after year. We have unrealistic expectations that will never be met as long as we refuse to let go of the fairy tale. Instead, let’s receive the gift that truly is Christmas – Jesus – the Light of the world, the Hope of the nations, the Bread of Life, the Prince of Peace, our Wonderful Counselor, our Savior, and our Redeemer!
That is my prayer for all of us this Christmas.
Women's Connection Administrative Coordinator