Holidays have this way of bringing out the best and worst in people. I'm constantly amazed by people's hostility and rudeness and also overwhelming kind-heartedness and generosity.
Some people are happy. They are in a new relationship, just got married, got a promotion at work, had a healthy new baby added to the family. And others are devastatingly sad, juggling grief, loss, and painful memories. Others are bewildered. Just tired, overwhelmed, and burnt out.Whether it's loneliness, a loss of job, family member or friend, or just plain exhaustion the holidays tend to exacerbate the situation.
The days run short. The nights run long. The bills stack up.
And then all the events started. School winter programs. Holiday cookies. Reminders to provide hot cocoa for the class event. Pajama day at school. Bring this. Buy that. Remember this. Blah.
I don't mean to sound scroogey but I'm kind of over the chaos of the holidays. People dragging whining children in stores (yes, I still take them with me). People buying meaningless gifts with money they don't have for people they feel obligated to give something to. Silly, isn't it?
Is it as mad as people trampling others so they can't get the best black Friday deals? And we think the Spaniards are crazy for their bull runs.
Here's the thing. The question you have to ask yourself.
What am I celebrating for?
Really think about it.
If your answer isn't celebrating Jesus, God who took on flesh, Saviour of the World, then well, I guess all the other stuff makes sense. We're trying to fill empty spaces with air. Meaninglessness. Nothing else satisfies.
Not Christmas presents, cards, candy, parties, lights, decorations, and not even people. Nothing will truly satisfy the cry of the heart.
I read a book last night to my children called Goodnight Jesus, or Nighty Night Jesus. Something like that. They didn't understand why the donkey would have been surprised to find a baby in the manger. I had to explain... this is where the donkey would have gotten his food. This is where the animals would gather to chow down.
The King of Kings. Creator of all. Savior of the World. Emmanuel. Come to sleep in a feeding trough.
Born of an unwed, virgin teenager.
A humble, hungry, crying infant... dependent on his mother for nourishment, warmth and provision.
And it's not just the birth, but the life, death, and resurrection that gives us Hope. God has restored us to Himself through Himself. Pretty Awesome to think about.
So this may not make everything seem good or rosy. You'll probably still get annoyed if someone cuts ahead of you in line or bumps into your shopping cart. But the good news is that God came for us. He came into a smelly stable so that He could save wretches like us. He came to bring us to Him.
I'm still frustrated with my kids. Contemplating what I will make for dinner... spaghetti or waffles. Somethings don't just magically change.
But I hope that as I reflect on what I'm celebrating that my heart would change. That my heart would long to love others and share kindness and friendship... knowing in and of themselves it's not good enough but when your heart is filled with the hope that comes from Jesus Christ may it spill over to to every other part of me.