Christmas is the most wonderful, awful time of the year. Yesterday I wrote about the wonder of Christmas. For the casual reader, you may have thought it another piece about candlelight, a starlit night, neatly (or extravagantly) wrapped presents, or an intact family gathered around the uncarved turkey on an elaborately coordinated table setting, and skimmed right over it. If that’s what you did, I understand.
For too long we have created this image that Christmas centers around a picture-perfectly decorated home dictated by the latest women’s magazine and families cozied by the fire reading Christmas stories and eating cookies. Not that this is bad. It’s just not reality for most of us.
By now we have come to understand that, for many, Christmas is about anything but “merry and bright.” I get that. As a society, we get that. We’ve read the ponderous articles on the increased suicide rate during the holidays and the flood of how-to articles of “getting through” the season with your emotional well-being intact. We just read in our newspaper or watched on television a tragic shooting in a crowded mall. Today we read of a yet another school shooting. By now we have come to realize Christmas is a season that seems to only make sense for happy people. The harsh reality of the empty chair or the empty heart that so many face makes it almost impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of their pain. For those dealing with the harshness of cancer, or the bitterness of relationship gone awry, or the bleakness of a job loss, they can scarcely imagine joy. Even in the best of circumstances, navigating the ins and outs of Christmas can be overwhelming and messy.
The wonder of Christmas is not a sentimental feeling or a magazine photo op. You don’t have to opt out of Christmas, hoping to just get through it because the wonder of Christmas is none of these things. The wonder of Christmas (in case you missed it) is Christ came to not only share in our pain but to carry our pain. The wonder of Christ means we do not have a God who is afar off and indifferent to our suffering but has gone through the same suffering and “gets it.” The wonder of Christmas is that we are not alone in this world but we have a Savior who lives in us that we might experience true peace and comfort and joy that is not based on the discord of our days.
Christmas is for the wounded. The beaten down. The lonely. The desperate. The fearful. Christ’s coming is the most hopeful thing we have in this world. Don’t miss it because it comes wrapped in something else. The funny thing is, Christmas is for those who find it hardest to enjoy.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27