December 16, 2008

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

Songs and movies say it. Christmas cards say it. Commercials say it. EVERYONE says it.

So it must be true.

With nine days until Christmas one would expect us all to be knee deep in jingle belling, hearts all aglow, caroling in the snow, and an all-around feeling of Christmas cheer.

I’m not. Are you?

It seems Santa’s sack bulges with more than just presents. Dashing alongside our preparations are our expectations. We hope that some way, somehow our efforts will come out the other side magically transformed into dazzling wonders and treasured memories.

Unfortunately the switch to life’s troubles doesn’t get turned “off” come December. And for many, Christmas is bittersweet, if not downright disheartening. Against the backdrop of “required” glee burdens seem heavier. Losses greater. Sadness deeper. This Christmas, especially, I feel the pain of others as well as my own. I see lives profoundly marked by struggling marriages, ailing parents and lost children. I see the desperation of unemployment, depression and addiction. I see grief from death, cancer and poverty.

How do situations like these fit into the Norman Rockwell version of Christmas we have safely tucked away in our collective memories? Is Christmas still Christmas if it’s not marked with a sparkly tree? Or presents? Or parties? Or even peace?

Just look at Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t a prepared, produced, picture-perfect event. In fact, the first Christmas came with little fanfare, save a star in the sky. Think about it. We’re talking about God, the Creator of the universe. He could do anything. Anything. And He chose to enter the world helpless, tiny and weak. In the most humble of settings. Welcomed by smelly shepherds and smellier livestock. Emmanuel—God with us. Talk about magical transformation and dazzling wonder! Aren’t you blown away by this? I am.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
A new and glorious morn. How can we create a Christmas more amazing than the incarnation? Jesus didn’t come to heavy our load. He came to give rest to the weary. The brokenhearted. The downtrodden. For those in prison and those who mourn. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

This Christmas if you’re feeling a little (or a lot) less than, that’s OK. Christmas isn’t an event we pass or fail. It is a gift we behold and admire with awe. It’s one we receive, by choice. But to receive it, it’s not our houses, menus or Christmas cards we need to prepare—it’s our hearts.

Thankfully Jesus isn’t a seasonal item only available for a limited time, and He doesn’t get packed away with the rest of our Christmas things come January. No, the promise God sent to us in the manger lives as vibrantly on June 25 as December 25.

Emmanuel, God with us. What truly good news of great joy in this, and all, seasons.

13 comments:

Kelly with a "y" said...

Bravo, Kelli!

Absolutely magnificent!

Merry Christmas my friend!

Your Southern Friend,

Kelly

Mary Thompson said...

Beautiful thoughts, Kelli. I just read Rick Warren's book, The Purpose of Christmas. It is a quick read...about 1.5 hours and manages to put it all into perspective. Highly recommended!!!

Justin said...

Kelli,

Love this blog entry. This is exactly what I needed to hear these days. Thank you.

Merry Christmas, Friend.

Romans 15:13,

Justin

Nicole said...

Kelli - thank you so much for this! Beautiful!

Nicole

Chatty Kelly said...

Must be the topic of the week - I am blogging about this tomorrow, with the title "The Most Overwhelming Time of the Year." LOL!

Great, great, great!

Gail W. said...

Hi Kelli! I wondered over from Elaine's place and loved this post on Christmas. You expressed it so beautifully - God's people need to be tender to the fact that not everyone is having a wonderful time! God bless you for your words of encouragement.

Alexis Powers said...

So well put. Now I won't feel bad that I haven't sent out any cards yet. Maybe happy spring cards will go out this year, that is if my kids would sit long enough for me to get a good picture!

You made my day,
Alexis

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

We certainly can't trump that first Christmas by our feeble attempts at the process. But I think the "struggle" isn't all bad. It reminds us of that inner pull that is calling us home, to a final Bethlehem moment when all will be revealed for what it is.

Truth in living color. Thus, when I feel the "angst" within, I make a deliberate effort (as quick as I can) to get to God in my prayers and my pause.

I've been praying alot lately!!!

Honestly, I've taken on too much this year, and the physical, not to mention the emotional toll has been costly.

Thanks for sharing your heart. I know you have a good grip on what's important. I'll be thinking of you the next time I want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Truly, one of the best blessings about blogland is knowing that I'm not alone in my journey.

peace to you this night~elaine

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, thanks for reminding me of the verses in Matthew. I am weary tonight and am so thankful to know that I can find rest in Jesus.

Be blessed this Christmas!!

Sue J. said...

You know, the Bible doesn't say anything about celebrating Christmas. While it's important (and amazing) to know that Christ came to earth to dwell among us, He didn't make it a point to say, "And please remember to celebrate my birthday."

So, it's OK to not get caught up in the whirlwind of what Christmas has become. Remembering what the Bible says--that Jesus is the Word, and that the Word is still alive and vibrant--is what's really worth celebrating. And that you can do every day, as you have said.

Joy is from within, and I know you still have The joy!

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli,

Christmas is indeed a gift we behold with awe - a gift from God's heart to ours.

BTW - I enjoy your input on TWV2. I just stopped by to say Merry Christmas.

Blessings!

Terri Tiffany said...

Awesome post! Thanks for giving hope to so many!!:))

Sassy Granny ... said...

Beautiful! The whole concept of "Emmanuel", God WITH us, just blows my mind even as it summons tears. Incredible.

Kathleen