Is Christmas Bitter Sweet for You?

Christmas can be a bitter sweet time of year. We enjoy seeing the excitement of children in their anticipation of opening presents. We see them sparkle in their innocence and wonder at the holidays. But as we get older, it gets harder. We grieve over our loved ones that have passed away. We’re torn by which home to spend Christmas day at for those with divided families. We feel lonely and lost if we don’t have any family to celebrate with.

This Christmas may look very different than anticipated. But isn’t that usually the case? The enemy absolutely loves to destroy Christmas. He knows that if he can dash your dreams and hold you in discouragement that you will not want to celebrate its true meaning.

Christmas is one of the holidays that offers the greatest hope. Jesus came to bring life, break chains, and set people free. He came to give us light, so that we no longer have to live in darkness. He returned authority back to its rightful place.

All of that can get lost in the discouragements and distractions of the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas traditions. You have to watch all the Hallmark Christmas movies. You need to bake 80 pounds of Christmas cookies. You need to outdo the Griswold’s with lights on your house. You need to race around and buy everybody everything they want on their wish list. How about making the perfect turkey and all the fixings?

My challenge to you this year is why?

Sit on that for a minute.

Why do you do all that you do at Christmas? Is it because your family and your grandparents’ parents all did it? Is it because you enjoy it or because it’s what you’ve always done? Is it drawing you closer to the real reason of Christmas or further away? Are you so busy with all the planning that you aren’t taking the time to reflect on the miraculous birth of Jesus?

It’s not that any of the traditions are wrong. Jesus loves it when we have a good time. But,

What can you give up this year to make a new tradition of studying the story of Jesus’ birth? Not just reading over a chapter and calling it a day. I’m talking about getting captivated by the details of it all. Letting the story come to life for you. I’ve read it countless times. I know it can become like a cute little children’s story. Picturing the little toddler on stage at church wiggling his little tail in his lamb costume, singing obnoxiously loud, waving to his parents, and picking his nose.

But the story of Jesus’ birth is profound:

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” – Matthew 1:21

It was prophesied about:

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ … The LORD has displayed His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” Isaiah 52:7,10

 It’s dangerous:

“…The LORD suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying ‘Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.” Matthew 1:13

It’s embarrassing:

“So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly” – Matthew 1:18

“…and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough – because there was no room for them at the lodging place” – Luke 2:7

It’s miraculous:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” – Luke 1:35

“…Today a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David…Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!” – Luke 2 11, 14

I want to give you permission to grieve. The people of Israel grieved as they waited for the Messiah. They had lived in silence for centuries. Jesus gave up His perfectly comfortable, fully God form and privileges to squeeze His all-powerful self into a small helpless body and have his first memories in a dingy, sloppy feeding trough. He knows pain and grief better than anyone. He understands great loss and sorrow.

Though I know many of you are struggling this year, I want to offer you hope. If you can spend Christmas with anyone this year, be sure to spend it with Jesus. He is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6. He is the “Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” – 2 Corinthians 1:3 (b)

So spend some time to grieve, but don’t stay in it. Take time to write a list of fond memories you had of the person you’ve lost, the people you love, or past Christmas memories you’ve enjoyed. Write down what the Lord has done for you this year. Allow the Spirit to fill your soul with joy as you reflect on these things. Then offer praise and thanks to Him.

Listen to Christian Christmas songs or worship music. Listen to the lyrics. Then start to sing out the words. I’ve found that even in the worst of times, when I sing to the Lord, it does something inside of me. The words might come out more like sobs, but a freeing of my spirit takes place as I choose to worship the King.

You don’t have to feel lonely or lost. The Holy One is there with you. This might just end up being one of the most memorable Christmases you’ll ever have. Jesus loves celebrations in His honour. He’ll always attend a good party in His name. Rejoice and be glad. For “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

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