Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 17, 2012

When Christmas Comes

As far back as I can recall I remember always looking forward to Christmas. When I was a child it seemed that it would never arrive as I eagerly crossed dates off the calendar and waited. When I was a young adult, it seemed to come a little faster as I saved money then rushed around trying to buy gifts. By the time I was a parent, Christmas seemed to come even faster – and at times before I was really ready for it to arrive. But in spite of how fast or slow Christmas seems to come, I find that even after all these years I still look forward to Christmas. And I’m so thankful that Christmas always comes!

To be sure, there have been those years when my heart just didn’t feel like Christmas. When I was in grade school, my grandfather passed away on December 12, just 13 days before Christmas. We already had his present ready to put under the tree. That year my heart didn’t feel a lot like Christmas.

Then there was the year when I was married with 3 young children and my Mom was in the hospital facing a leg amputation. She was hospitalized for about a month right before Christmas. As my sister and I worked, cared for our kids, and spent time at the hospital, I don’t think it felt a lot like Christmas to any of us.

And then this year, my heart is challenged once again as I look forward to Christmas.  After the loss of our grandson just a little over a month ago, and then hearing of the horrifying tragedy that occurred in Connecticut this past week, it’s just hard to feel like Christmas. But in spite of how I feel, I am so thankful that Christmas still comes – just as it did that very first Christmas when the world really didn’t know what to think about the baby Messiah that was born in Bethlehem.

I cannot help but wonder …..

Did Mary feel like Christmas when people stared, pointed their fingers, and cast doubt about her story?

 

Did Joseph feel like Christmas when people murmured as he passed by, or when they tossed insults and ridicule toward him because he refused to dissolve  his engagement to Mary?

 

Did anyone feel like Christmas when Caesar Augustus ordered everyone to travel to their ancestral homes to be counted in a census and to pay a huge tax? For those like Mary and Joseph, it meant traveling around 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, certainly not an easy trip and surely a most difficult one for Mary who was almost ready to deliver a child.

 

Did the shepherds feel like Christmas as they probably huddled around a campfire in the fields outside of Bethlehem watching their sheep and perhaps bemoaning their station in life?

 

But, thankfully, Christmas came. It came when there were questions and doubts. It came when there were hardships and problems. It came in the midst of political unrest and abundant injustices in society. Christmas came to those who looked for it with anticipation, eagerly expecting the birth of the Messiah. And it also came to those in darkness. Christmas came.

As I look back and think about that very first Christmas and think of the turmoil and trouble in the world when Jesus was born, I am reminded that Jesus was born into a world of trouble, political unrest, hardship and controversy. Yet as Jesus was born and christened our very first Christmas, He brought good news to all people. He offered light to both dispel the gloom and to show the way. He brought joy and hope to a weary people. The angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds:  “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you. You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger’” (Luke 2:10-12).

The shepherds rejoiced over the angels’ message. After years of prophetic silence, God had spoken in the birth of His Son. Worry and fear was replaced with hope and joy as they saw God visiting His people and walking with them in every trial and circumstance they faced.

In the same way, each year as we look forward to and anticipate the arrival of Christmas, it really doesn’t matter whether or not we feel like Christmas. In fact, when we feel the least like Christmas may be the very time we can rejoice the most. Because it is when we are at our lowest and most discouraged that we can rejoice over the good news of Christmas that Christ has come and we are not alone. God is with us. “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 47:7).

On the Christmas I lost my grandfather, I remember my Mom dragging out decorations and defiantly putting up our Christmas tree. I also recall my sister and I joyfully decorating a tree for my Mom (at her direction) when she came home from the hospital just in time for Christmas. And this weekend I watched on television as determined individuals in Connecticut declared they planned to put up their trees and still have Christmas. How? Because Christmas still comes and the message of Christmas still speaks hope and promise in the midst of our sadness and grief. This year as I celebrate Christmas, my heart is heavy for those families in Connecticut and for others I know who are dealing with grief or who are carrying heavy burdens, but I also rejoice that because of Christ, there is hope for those who sorrow and hurt. Even when we don’t necessarily feel like Christmas, we can rejoice because of Christ. Like the Psalmist we can pray: “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God” (Psalm 40:17). The message of Christmas assures us that God is with us. And, oh, how we all can pray for the day when our pain and suffering is ended and when we are united with our loved ones and with Jesus Himself. I am eagerly looking forward to that day! It’s a lot like looking forward to Christmas, when I finally get to see the One who came as a baby, who suffered and died for me. O how I look forward to that day – when Christmas comes to stay!

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