A wish for hope and joy this Christmas
Long ago there was a time when a population was ruled by strangers in their own country.
The ruling country was harsh and had an appetite for ruling the world. No talk of any other ruler would be tolerated.
People were heavily taxed, desperate for rest and stressed.
They were frustrated and the gap between rich and poor was vast.
They were waiting on a promise.
Waiting until there were shepherds on a hillside, a star in the sky, wise men on their way and a baby in a manger.
Hope had arrived.
This Christmas, many find themselves in what they see as desperate situations. The economy is bad. Some are living paycheck to paycheck.
People are hurting and lonely. A holiday focusing on family gatherings makes them feel empty instead of warm.
Christmas has become a mad dash for holiday bargains and a long list of unnecessary wants. While others suffer, some fight over a $5 waffle iron in the mad Christmas rush.
We ask, “What are you getting for Christmas?” rather than, “What are you giving for Christmas?”
It’s become a busy array of gatherings that are “fit in” rather than enjoyed. Sometimes the concept of family is lost in the schedule.
We forget about the star that shone over a dirty stable one night. It led to a child, a very important child, not born in a palace but a storage place for hay and animals.
The first to see him were not dignitaries and priests. They were shepherds who may have been out with their sheep for days, smelly and dirty. He came for the poor, the hurting and the lonely, a description that fits most of us at some time in our lives.
We’re an overstressed and over-stimulated society. As a result, we’ve turned Christmas into something dreaded instead of enjoyed. We’ve created the chaos we dread.
We forget about that baby in the manger and who he grew to be. His sacrifice so that others may have joy complete.
Joy is what seems to be missing from the modern celebration of Christmas. We need to stop, breath and smile at the joy of Christmas. The cookies can wait, the presents will get wrapped and the family will get to their gatherings when they can.
Often we feel like Charlie Brown who couldn’t quite figure out Christmas anymore. He even felt depressed. He asked, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Then Linus proceeds to tell him the story of that baby in the manger so long ago. Charlie Brown smiled and left the chaos of the play he was struggling to direct. Soon everyone else followed and left the chaos behind.
Like Linus, maybe remembering the story of Christmas may calm the craziness of the season, and like Charlie Brown, we can figure out the joy we’ve missed.
We can think about those shepherds on the hillside, the star in the sky, the wise men who paid tribute and the baby in the manger.
I wish all of you a blessed and joy-filled Christmas.