(Today is a twofer with our meditations, happy reading!)
What happens when you’ve got the holiday blues? What about when you’re just not feeling the holiday spirit? Thanksgiving has come and gone, we just made it through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. (Did I miss any?) There have been Christmas trees up in Target before Halloween was over and as soon as Thanksgiving ended you’ve got Christmas tunes playing on the radio. Communities are doing their annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies and even Santa and all of his reindeer have already come to town.
In all of this, there is this sense, this feeling, that we’re supposed to be having a holly jolly kind of time, that this is the best time of the season, drink eggnog, put up the Christmas lights, decorate the tree and smile because it’s Christmas, who isn’t happy during Christmas?
But a lot of people aren’t. For so many this is one of the hardest seasons of the year. The time when the memories of loved ones who have passed away and aren’t with us at the table or around the tree becomes hard to ignore and put in the back of their minds. It’s a time of high stress and high expectations, many putting too much of themselves into finding just the right kind of gift, sometimes the right kind of gift that will make up for time not spent during the rest of the year and sometimes the right kind of gift that will prove how you feel about someone.
Our children are fed such a high dose of commercial expectations, of what they should expect under the tree and what the parents of their friends give to their kids doesn’t help lower the expectations any! Then there are the ideas of what the Christmas moment should look like, straight from Hallmark with winter scene in the background, a roaring fire, picture perfect tree and a family dressed like they are in a photo shoot. Whatever it may be, some of this effects everyone in some way during the holidays, sometimes it effects us a lot.
Somehow if you’re not feeling the holiday spirit you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Like you should feel a certain way right now and if you don’t you’re a Grinch. Maybe you’re just supposed to fake it till you make it, put on a smiling face that would make the elf on the shelf proud and ignore how you’re feeling on the inside. or at least don’t tell anyone how you’re feeling because that would be un-Christmaslike.
As we begin the holy season of Advent to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas I want to start off by giving you Christians permission to feel however you’re going to feel right now all the way through December 25th. There is not a certain way that you are supposed to feel this month, you don’t have to fake it or keep it on the inside; you have permission to feel how ever you need to feel right now. This is why. Christmas is not about how we feel and how we feel isn’t going to change what Christmas is about.
Christmas is about one thing only and that is the sending of Jesus Christ into our world. The very word Christmas tells us this, from the Latin Christus Missa, the missa is at the end of the Communion service, it is the sending of the congregation after receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood as forgiven and renewed people to bear Jesus Christ into your world. Christmas is when we celebrate the Sending of Jesus Christ for our sakes. Why else did Jesus come into our world but because we are broken and hurting, separated from our God and in need of a savior.
It is for exactly those feelings of loss, heartache, pain, trying to prove ourselves and trying to make-up for misplaced priorities and all of the realities that have caused those feelings that Jesus Christ was sent into our world. In faith we can place all of those feelings into our savior’s loving hands. Knowing that he comes to us exactly how we are, without expecting us to be holly jolly or have a plastic elf grin on our face we don’t have to hide or try to fake it with Jesus but give to him everything just how it is. Knowing that what he gives back to us is the best Christmas present of all, himself. Jesus was the first Christmas present ever. Given to the world, given to you and me, so we could have Christmas hope that now matter what this world throws at us Jesus is always with us, Jesus is always walking us through and Jesus will always take us home to be with him.
Especially when we’re not feeling up to artificial smiles, plastic trees and shopping madness, you don’t have to be, you don’t have to fake it at all. That is not what Christmas is all about, it’s about what God has done for us in Jesus. Let Christmas be what it is supposed to be about, your savior coming into your world to love and care for you. Amen.