BY PASTOR TONY REA | DECEMBER 21, 2020
Don’t look now, but today is Monday, December 21. That means after today, we only have three more shopping days until Christmas—the highly celebrated holiday event and most wonderful time of the year.
For many people like myself, that one statement—announcing the coming of Christmas—generates a whole lot of excitement and anticipation. After all, even though this spectacular holiday includes a ton of work, added expense, emotional and physical overload, and this year the hassle of shopping with an obnoxious mask, still, over the years we have learned to negotiate the stress and cherish the season.
But truth be told, for some people, this time of year is no fun at all, just the thought of Christmas stirs up or triggers negative memories and heartache. For people in this company, the month of December means another stretch of sadness and loneliness; holidays replete with many tears.
As much as it’s in my heart to be ultra-sensitive to this group of people, never minimizing their struggles, and desiring to do anything I can to somehow ease their pain, I feel the need to say, the holiday blues is what fuels my Christmas passion. The uniqueness of this one-of-a-kind celebration is precisely the element that drives my holiday enthusiasm to record highs each year. On Christmas, God came to earth as a man! And the whole reason God did that was to rescue us and heal our pain. Did you catch that? On Christmas God came for us!
The very night that happened, recorded in Luke 2:11, the angel of the Lord said, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” To whom? To you! Not just everyone else, not just the people who love Christmas, get all fired up, and make a big deal about it but to you—a Savior has been born to you.
That’s what fills my entire being with comfort and joy every December, the personal side of Christmas. The holiday lights, the carol singing and shopping, the wrapping of gifts, family traditions, feasting and fine dining—all a bonus, the icing on the cake (or cream filling in the cannoli). These are all aspects of Christmas that greatly enhance the celebration.
However, let’s never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the reason for the season! In response to our pain, and because He loves us so much, God sent His one and only son into the world to save and set us free. Today more than ever before, our world needs to hear this story. Everyone on the face of the whole earth needs to know the good news of salvation, namely that little baby lying in a manger on Christmas morn is the Savior of mankind.
So make no mistake, the Christmas story begins and ends with Jesus. But what makes the story come alive to the believer is a willingness to embrace the spirit of Christmas, follow God’s lead, and involve ourselves in outrageous acts of kindness and generosity. Caring for people, reaching out to the less fortunate, sharing time and resources with others, and remembering the orphan and widow. This is how we communicate the true meaning of Christmas to our own souls! This is how we rise above human disappointments and compel ourselves to celebrate, even when it’s a chore to get out of bed and face the day.
As I mentioned earlier, I love Christmas. From the time I can remember to this very moment, I have continually cherished everything about this one holiday. I have completely bought into the charm and beauty associated with this time of year. To me Christmas has always been magical—nothing short of miraculous.
When I consider Christmas past, what does it for me, what flips my switch and makes the magic of Christmas come alive is not the gifts I open and receive, and it’s not the tremendous kindness others have shown me. And please don’t misunderstand or misinterpret my intentions, I am sincerely grateful for each and every blessing, and I take to heart with deep appreciation all the gifts that come my way. However, knowing I was able in some small fashion, to influence someone else’s life for the better, possibly meet a practical need or encourage others to conclude God cares about them, now that pushes my satisfaction meter off the charts. It’s the giving part that causes my soul to be replenished; it’s what pushes me out of my doldrums and helps my emotions soar high above discouragement and despair.
You see, it’s the “giving” of Christmas that enables us to say with full confidence and conviction—it’s the most wonderful time, the most wonderful time of the year.
Luke 3:10-11 (MSG)
The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”
“If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
Acts 20:35 (MSG)
You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master (Jesus) said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’