The stockings were hung by the chimney with care….. Oh right, that’s the Night Before Christmas, not the week before. There is just one week until we celebrate the birth of Christ. We are busy buying and wrapping gifts, assuming they have actually been delivered. We are contemplating the menu. This year, we are wondering who we can actually have to our homes for the celebration. Every year is a year unlike any other, but 2020 has taken this reality to a whole new level.
I am wondering if we need a little Christmas right this very moment. When I was in 9th grade, my school performed Mame for our musical. I was fortunate enough to be in the chorus. It turns out when it comes to singing solo, no sound comes out of my mouth. However, the chorus was the place for me. The song sung about needing a little Christmas comes to my mind on the occasion of thees challenging times. Mame, Angela Lansbury on stage, was looking for something to lift her and her family and “needed a little Christmas right that very moment. Candles in the window, carols on the Spinet.”
Who else needs, not just a little but a lot of Christmas this year? Who is worried they aren’t going to have the Christmas they want and need this year? I am guessing that there are a lot of us in need of an extra dose of Christmas. What does that mean to you?
What does an extra dose of Christmas mean to you?
I guess the place to start to answer this question needs to start with what does Christmas mean to you? What does it mean in the best of times? And what does it mean in the worst of times? Even more so, does the meaning and importance of Christmas really change if we are in good times or bad? Perhaps our job is to focus much more intensely on the true meaning of Christmas when times are tough.
With this heightened, well-placed focus we will better see the remarkable gift sent to the world at Christmas: Jesus! Perhaps this should be our goal everyday regardless of the date on the calendar and regardless of our situation, whether good or bad.
What really happened at Christmas in Bethlehem?
Approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born in humble conditions in Bethlehem. He was born to a young mother who was not yet married. There was no room in the inn. God sent His one and only Son so that whoever believed in Him would have ever lasting life. The Light of the world arrived that Christmas morning. Jesus came to Earth to reconcile each and everyone of us to God for eternity.
The bottom line is that for all of history, from Adam and Eve to the time of the birth of Jesus, God had relentlessly pursued a relationship with man. From walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to going before the Hebrews as they fled Egypt, and through prophets, God has lived among the people and spoken to them. Sometimes the people listened and a lot of the time they resisted and turned their backs on God. People thought they knew better.
Then, in Bethlehem, Jesus was born. Immanuel, God with us, born in lowly estate, lived a humble existence, then spent three years in earthly ministry, only to be crucified. But we know, if not the rest of the story, we know what happened next. Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin, death, and evil.
What are we waiting for?
Humanity had been given yet another chance to reconcile with God. God’s relentless pursuit of a relationship with man continues. God’s great mercy and grace is greater than any of us can begin to imagine. God is a holy and righteous God. God’s ways are above our ways in every aspect. Not only was humanity given another chance 2,000 years ago, we are daily, moment by moment until we take our last breath, given the opportunity to reconcile to God.
Do we wait until we are knocked to our knees by great loss? Do we wait until we realize we are beyond our own means? Rock bottom? How long do we attempt to continue in our own strength, dismissing all that God has freely given us? We worship our own idols. We put others, material possessions, fame, fortune, acclaim, vanity, and more ahead of God in our lives. Then we wonder why we are always running, searching, yearning for more, never feeling satisfied.
There is only One that will fill that empty, needful space: Jesus!
This is what Christmas is all about!
God sent Jesus to earth to show us not what, but who is needed to fill that empty space. We were created by the God who created the entire universe simply because God wanted to. Each and everyone of us are the result of the loving, holy, life-giving power of God. We are the result of God’s love for us! Every single person ever born or yet to be born, actually everyone formed in the womb, is the creation of God, the good, good work of a good, good Father!
This is what we celebrate at Christmas!
A good, good Father put love into action in the gift of His Son, Jesus! God, the creator of the universe came to Earth to show each and everyone of us what really matters. What is that? Love God and love others as ourselves. Jesus told us that this is the greatest commandment.
And this year?
So this year, as we are in a place none of us could have begun to imagine a year ago, we need a little Christmas. We need a lot of Christmas. We need to allow the true meaning of Christmas to flow through us and flow from us to others. We need to focus on Jesus. We need to let God’s love change our fear into faith.
As we face a Christmas where fear is played out daily before us on the news and in social media and within many of us, our right to gather is being challenged like never before, and we face uncertainty, this is the time to focus our hearts and minds, not on the presents under the tree, but the greatest gift that mankind has every received: the presence of Jesus. It is our choice to receive this gift with an open and willing heart or not.
So many have been alone for many months. We are isolated, separated, and lonely. Many are facing economic hardship not of their own making. The lives of students and parents are in upheaval and uncertainty. And the rules and projections of when the light at the end of the tunnel will be here and we will return to living in community without fear change all of the time.
But, my friends, the light has come into the world. And the darkness has not overcome the light. Jesus is the light of the world.
We hear the cute rhyme: Jesus is the reason for the season. Indeed, He is. But the best news, the best gift, the little Christmas we all need, is that Jesus is the Way for everyday. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let’s live that everyday!
We are asked to repent of our sins, turn away from our selfish desires, and turn to Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross us reconciles us to God for eternity. There is no Easter without Christmas.
Mame may have needed “a little Christmas right this very moment,” but we need a whole lot of Jesus everyday. Let Him be our focus as we head straight for Christmas one week from today.