Why we say “Merry Christmas”
As I write this I trust this holiday season finds you and your family well, and I hope that the days leading up to Christmas are full of comfort and joy! For our family, it has been an amazing year. We have had a full year of ministry, both at Perimeter and many other churches that graciously hosted our team!
Josie is three going on thirteen, asking me a thousand questions (like why baby Jesus from our nativity set has to sleep in that “hay pack-n-play”). She is still my sweet road companion and in her words, “Mommy, I just like to go places!” She is learning to be a good big sister to her two brothers, Benjamin and Griffin. They turned one a few months ago and they are walking, as well as taking turns pulling down our Christmas tree. We only decorated the top half of the tree since Griffin thinks it is hilarious to take the big gold balls down and bite into them like they areapples. These boys are keeping us on our toes, but oh my, they are so much fun! Martin is still working with a youth baseball team impacting the lives of young talented athletes, as well as serving with the facilities staff at our church. Like so many of you, we are busy and it seems like we are always on the go. However, in the midst of all of this, it is a sweet season for us, not perfect by any means, but sweet, nonetheless.
As I travel and talk with many people, I know that this season is not sweet for all. For some, comfort and joy is nowhere to be found. When we think of all the hurt around us, it leaves us asking, “How can we say Merry Christmas?” I was a call-in guest on a radio show just a few days ago, which wasbroadcasted in California, including the San Bernadino area. I was speaking on air twenty-four hours after thedevastating attack had ravaged their city. The show’s host recounted the events of the previous day and how listeners had called in from their cars, as they drove to visit loved ones in the hospital. It was a heartbreaking day. And there I was, calling to talk about my new Christmas project, which seemed so insignificant in light of all the pain, sadness and fear that so many were experiencing.
What does Christmas have to do with such sadness? We know that December 25th, just like every other day of the year, does not get a pass when it comes to heartache and pain. We live in a world that suffers the consequences of our fallenness. This reality often over shadows the celebration of the birth of Christ. In light of the harsh realities of life today, comfort and joy seems more suited to children’s books or some nostalgic reminder of a distant past.
Fortunately, the message of Christmas is not just found in nursery rhymes or Hallmark Channel Christmas shows. The message of Christmas is perfectly suited for the challenges we face in our lives. In its simplest understanding, wishing someone a merry Christmas isoffering a blessing to him or her. The birth of Christ was not to bring us happiness as much as to bring us hope. And what is our hope this Christmas? It is Emmanuel. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Father saw our desperation. He saw how sin had so deeply marred creation. He saw the poverty, the school shootings, the illnesses and every tragedy that had come and was to come. He loved us too much to leave us without hope, desperate and with no joy. He saw it all and He sent Jesus, our hope of salvation.
Some will spend this holiday with family, drinking wassail around a cozy fire, in homes filled with laughter and smiles. God will be with them in their joy, the giver of every good and perfect gift. Others will face their first Christmas after losing a parent or maybe a child. Some will face another Christmas without the child they prayed for or the spouse for which they long. Some will spend Christmas Eve in an ICU waiting room, in an orphanage, in a refugee camp. God will be with them. He sees every tear that is shed and draws near to the broken hearted. The true meaning of Christmas, of the incarnation, is that He is, Godwith us. Whatever road we find ourselves on during this season we remember, He is with us! As we embrace this reality, we will surely find hope.
So with this hope in our hearts, Merry Christmas from our family to yours. May you experience his comfort and joy, may you celebrate his birth well and may you find hope in Emmanuel, our God with us.