As the Hallmark movie channel announced 40 new Christmas movies for their 2019 schedule, it occurred to me that few events get the expectation and hype that Christmas does. Christmas has come to represent the culmination of the year in an extended season of beauty, feasting, generosity, friendship, and joy. We plan for traditions to be repeated, bringing all the perfection of Christmases past into today’s edition.
But what about the times when the season of merriment is eclipsed by divorce, a scary diagnosis, death, disappointment? When all the traditions feel hollow, and the season serves as a reminder of what a mess your life is, when relationships are severed, bank accounts are dry, and dreams are crushed, what is there to celebrate anyway?
I think we all get a few Christmases like that, a few broken Decembers.
But our personal experience doesn’t change the fact that Jesus chose to be made human, as a helpless baby, and enter our world of pain, sickness, sin, and separation from God in order to manifest God’s love for us. He chose to be the sacrifice, the atonement for our sin, so that we can enter into a redeemed relationship with God. His arrival in this world signaled the end of the power of death, fear, and hate. Even though those things are still prevalent in this world, Jesus’ birth ensured that they don’t get the last word. They don’t win!
Even in your broken and disappointed state, Jesus brings a hope that can be celebrated. I hope you get to enjoy the full Christmas experience of family, friends, feasting, gifts, and beautiful decorations. But even if you’re alone and aren’t doing anything special to commemorate the season, I hope you’re able to re-center your hope in Jesus. I pray that a deep awareness of His love for you will be the gift that exceeds all expectations. I hope that all of the trappings and commercializing of Christmas fades into the background as the beauty of the story of our salvation overwhelms all the brokenness in your life and mine.
I think back to the shepherds watching their sheep on the outskirts of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. They were probably cold, hungry, and uncomfortable. They probably didn’t feel like they had much going for them, professionally and otherwise. But as the angel appeared to them heralding the good news of Jesus’ birth, followed by the sky filling with choirs of angels, I bet they felt love, hope, joy, and excitement that transformed the drudgery of their lives.
Take hold of that same good news. Let’s celebrate the hope of Jesus this Christmas!