You may be reading this on the 4th Sunday of Advent, or you may be reading this on Christmas day. Why? Restrictions. The restrictions from the pandemic prevented our publishing company from creating a separate bulletin for the holiday. More restrictions, UGH! Regardless of what day it is, we should be unwrapping the true meaning of Christmas…every day. This past year has been so unreal. This is not my normal Christmas message. We have experienced things that we never imagined were even possible: lockdowns, wearing masks, deaths, and yes, challenging restrictions. So many things have been competing for our attention that it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. With all this death, something seems to have died in us. With all the restrictions, we may long for the traditions of last year. But, don’t forget, last year there were things like rampant commercialism and stressful distractions as well. Studies show that the holidays cause folks loneliness and anxiety. Talk about restrictions! With the pandemic, this seems even more obvious. Let’s not let any of this…let’s not let anything, not even death rob us of the real purpose of Christmas.
With the steady intake of bad news that has become our new normal, we can get so desensitized that we forget what is really going on. We can forget the Good News! Christmas commemorates that God entered this world in human form. It is the celebration of the Birth of the Savior. God has taken on human flesh. You may be thinking: “Yeah!? Tell me something I don’t know!” But, most likely, we have become desensitized, overwhelmed, and without even realizing it, have lost focus. With all the grittiness of life, the real purpose of Christmas may have gotten buried. I encourage us to make a decision to grab onto the awesome news of Jesus and allow it to affect our lives.
2000 years ago, there were angels singing, kings gifting, and much rejoicing. God taking on human flesh was totally new. He had certainly been active in the creation of the world, in the making of a covenant with Israel and had promised to be with and to save them. But at the first Christmas, they realized that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise and this changed their lives and their focus. I ask you: What effect is the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise practically having in your life? Have we become too overwhelmed and desensitized by all the challenges? With all the pain, are we unable to see a connection?
At His birth in Bethlehem the Infant Jesus was placed in a wooden manger. While we can feel nostalgic and warm fuzzies when we think of these Christmas card images, don’t forget, that wooden manger would be replaced at the end of His life by the wood of the Cross. This God who has taken on human flesh, understands our pain. From the Cross, He rose to life and accomplished salvation. His Birth was a prelude to His Resurrection. The true meaning of Christmas is that God so loves us that He gave us Jesus. God shares our human condition even to death. He brought hope within the grittiness of life.
Give yourself a real gift and spend some time bringing all your distractions, loneliness and anxiety to Christ. Unwrap the true meaning of Christmas.