I feel like I should start this post by announcing “Christmas is coming!” But that seems redundant this close to the 25th. I’m sure many of you have been, by now, inundated with Christmas songs, buried in Christmas wrap and rushing around to finish Christmas shopping and bake Christmas food. We are saturated by everything Christmas by this time of the month. The usual question on salespeople’s and friends lips is “Are you ready for Christmas?”
My reply is that I’m never ready. I’m always doing last minute things using up the extra time I might have given myself by getting other things done early. I go, pedal to the metal, putting endless kilometers on my car, shopping or buying until the last possible moment. Each year I promise myself I’m going to be ready sooner, simplify and each year I catch myself adding one more thing to the ‘traditions of Christmas’ list which means making one more quick trip to town. I want to make Christmas memorable. I want people to look back and say, that was a great Christmas.
At Christmas we open our hearts to possibilities and promises that have always been promised and will always be there. Christmas is a moment where we stop in wonder at what happened at a certain point in history. It’s a time out of time that comes weighted with traditions and memories, smells and sounds that we want to keep going or recreate.
It can also, however, be a time a time of deep sorrow and loneliness as the emphasis on joy and cheer can be a sad counterpoint to the hard moments of life – loss and sorrow, pain and grief. They seem to be felt more keenly this time of the year.
For Christians the heart of Christmas isn’t just a season. To be sure it’s a celebration and it comes with wonderful moments and memories that we create and recreate every year. It’s like a sideways glance in our lives, a slowing down before we carry on with this business called living.
Because Christ came into our world not for a moment, but for the long haul. For the entire journey of our lives and the lives of the people who came before us and will come after us.
And that’s a great comfort when Christmas can, at times, fall short of expectations. When the memories and pictures we have of how it will all turn out don’t mesh with the reality of missing family members, people that don’t get along, and the turkey or roast that takes too long to cook and people are getting cranky and you’re rushing around trying to make sure they don’t fill up on the Christmas baking before they can eat the meal you spent hours getting ready, seeking, once again, that elusive perfection. It never really comes, does it?
But this is the good news of the season. Christ came into the world with a promise of hope and prefaced by the words, Fear Not! He’s here not just for a season, but has made a commitment to us for all time.
In my most recent book, This Place, I deal with that very concept. Duncan and Miriam are both afraid to commit to a relationship. Both come with baggage and past hurts. Fear is what is holding them back. But as they let Christ’s love and forgiveness into their lives, they are able to release their fears and make a commitment for the long haul.
Just in time for Christmas!
I am so thankful for the promise that comes to us in Christmas. But I’m even more thankful that the promise remains well after the tree is down and the ornaments put away and we struggle with the extra pounds and the extra costs.
Fear not, Jesus is there for the long haul.