Here we are in mid -December and the question most people ask is, “Are you ready for Christmas?” The real question is “Do you have your Christmas shopping done?” I find those asking have had their shopping done since Thanksgiving, with presents wrapped, gift receipts alphabetized, while joyfully sipping eggnog by a cozy fire every night. I laugh and answer, “My grandchildren have so much I am running out of ideas!” The answer is “we all do have so much.” How exactly did Christmas become “Six weeks of hurry there’s a red and green light special on aisle 9?”
For me, the question swirls around in my head and knocks loudly on the door of my heart. Am I ready for Christmas? Is my heart where it needs to be? Am I ready to share the glory of God, and the truth of His great love for us, with the virgin birth of Jesus? Have I forgiven others, or displayed His love to my family, friends or strangers? On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my time with God each day?
Years ago as a struggling single mother, with no extra money to purchase gifts for my children, there were fewer distractions, and we found joy and comfort in the simple pleasures of life. We grew much closer by dedicating special time together every night reading the Bible at bedtime. One of my fondest memories of Christmas past is being snowed in on Christmas morning and watching movies with the children all day. Oh, they had a few gifts to open, but very few compared to what it’s like now. Being together was enough; we laughed, snuggled, and this warmed my heart!
The years have been very kind, and the Lord has blessed our family with more than enough. But, enough isn’t good enough anymore, and instead of enjoying this wonderful time of year, I have allowed myself to be completely stressed out trying to find just the right gifts for my grandchildren, family, and friends. While the issue could be because they are all beyond blessed, and already have enough trinkets and toys, it could be that I have made Christmas about gifts and presents, and not about the greatest gift of all, the baby Jesus.
How did I allow gifts to become more important than the real meaning of Christmas? Part of it is because I am a gift giver and love giving to others. I think it began when I finally had enough money to give gifts without wondering, or worrying, about the money. But the shopping has become a frenzied extravagancy that robs me of the true meaning and celebration of Christmas, which is Christ’s birth. The thief has other ways to bring sadness and disheartening feelings this month and they include, loneliness, past failures, depression, anxiety, the memory of the loss of loved ones, and missed opportunities.
How do we get past these feelings and into the true meaning of Christmas? We must remind ourselves that with the birth of Jesus, we can experience His comfort and joy regardless of our circumstances or situations. We must reset our mindset and focus on gratitude and kindness; then, deliberate with God on loving and forgiving others, which releases God’s love into the world. Be the extra log on the fire and warm the hearts of others. We need to lower the expectations on others, and depend on Jesus, the one who never lets us down. If you want to change a heart from sadness to gladness, share your heart for Jesus with someone He loves! Jesus is always more than enough! He is the gift that keeps on giving, day after day, year after year, and generation after generation.
As we embark on God’s Kingdom journey, He frees us from past baggage, along with the trappings of this world, and He commandeers a doubting spirit by strengthening us with His Holy Spirit.
Finally, I want to offer a wonderful carol which amplifies the Gospel message of Christmas. If you enjoy out of this world harmonies, consider “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Pentatonix. This group has one of Owensboro’s own, Kevin Olusola. Please carefully read the words of this great song.
Merry Christmas to all and may all enjoy a life of Hope, Comfort, and Joy through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world!
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
God rest you merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray:
In Bethlehem in Israel, this blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary did nothing take in scorn
From God our heavenly Father a blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.
“Fear not then,” said the Angel, “Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”
The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway, this blessed Babe to find.
And when they came to Bethlehem, where our dear Saviour lay, |
They found Him in a manger, where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling down, unto the Lord did pray:
Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all other doth efface:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.