I would like to confess something. For the last ten to fifteen years, I’ve have found very little joy in Christmas. I know as a Christian, I should take great joy in celebrating this time of year the world acknowledges the birth of Jesus Christ. But I had lost focus and the meaning of what we were doing.
As I was growing up, Christmas was never like the Norman Rockwell paintings, the Hallmark Channel movies, it was much more restrained and from my point of view, much less joy. Mom didn’t seem to enjoy Christmas, especially compared to Thanksgiving. There had to have been something in her childhood that continued to hurt her and added to that, the financial restrains of buying gifts were great has well.
After Terrie and I were married, Christmas was good. One of her “love languages” was receiving gifts, so if you could wrap it, she enjoyed it and I liked it as well.
I guess as the cycle of life went on, things began to change. Terrie’s mom passed. A few years later, my mom passed, then Terrie’s dad. At this point, only siblings were left and it didn’t have the same importance or significance to us. Terrie’s handicap started getting worse to the point, it was difficult for her to decorate and I didn’t want to. I was content with a very small Christmas tree sitting on a table with one electrical plug, which took five seconds to plug in and light the tree. Then Terrie’s sister, the last of her family, died six years ago. Right after that, I had a major surgery to remove cancer and reconstruct my tongue.
And then, last year, Terrie passed.
And in the last year, I have hurt and grieved and walked with Jesus on what I called the “Highway of Grief”. We walked together. We would visit and He was taking me to school again, giving me daily lessons about myself, about Him, and about life.
Just over a week ago, I had my 39th spiritual birthday. December 12, 1977, it was in my home, I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, my Savior. That was a special Christmas for me.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with who He is pleased.” Luke 2:8-14 NASB
Last Sunday morning, my pastor (Greg Keenen) had written a Sunday school lesson for us to present entitled, “Does Christmas Disappoint You?” based on the passage from Luke 2. I will not re-teach the lesson here, but I did want to give you the main points and make some comments on those points.
In the introduction to the lesson, Brother Greg made this statement, “The artificial happenings and feelings that Christmas is supposed to bring can leave you empty.” And to that I had to answer, “Yes, it does.” I had the feeling as I was studying the lesson that it was going to change my thinking about this holiday and put me back on track.
Point #1 was Your Situation Or God’s Glory? I discovered I was looking at my situation being just right. The passage said the shepherds were working the night shift and the glory of God showed up. That was something special.
Point #2 was “Good News” or “Good Times” I had forgotten, while it is good to be with family and to give and get gifts, the reason for Christmas was about the good news. The angel said, “…for behold, I bring you good tidings (news) of great joy” The angel was proclaiming after all this time, the Messiah had come. The great joy was because of that very message.
Point #3 was Inward or Outward Focus? Trying to get our needs met outside of Christ is idolatry. If we are lifting up the event or Santa or anything else other than Jesus, there is a danger of idolizing it.
Point #4 was Sweet Story or Personal Experience” The sweet story is Jesus was born in a manger. The personal experience is recognizing Him as the only answer of our sinful condition and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.
He closed the lesson with this sentence, ” Embracing and remembering God’s love through Christ can bring you lasting joy!”
I was so thankful for that lesson, it was such an encouragement to me. Do you want lasting joy? Have you recognized your sinfulness and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? Christmas time is a great time to start a new life. Everybody is celebrating.
May Christmas be special to you again. Merry Christmas!