The scenes were shocking. Festive holiday lights were overshadowed by the lights of police cars and ambulances. Sights of band members and dancers bringing Christmas cheer turned into sights of people running in fear and chaos. The sounds of jubilant joy turned into shrieks of screaming as a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, turned into a tragedy of unimaginable horror, pain and senseless violence.
What adds to the heartbreak is that this community, not unlike our own, was coming together to find some Christmas spirit amidst the long shadow of COVID, intensifying division and polarization that has saturated our nation, economic hardship that has affected so many, a mounting mental health crisis, and a lack of neighborly love and civility that is now increasingly becoming the norm in our society. They were looking to have something to celebrate, they were looking to find some joy after two years of hardships. They’re not alone.
Have you noticed that this year, perhaps more than any previous year, more people have decided to put up Christmas decorations early? I’m personally a “one holiday at a time” kind of guy. At our home, we’ve always put up our decorations after Thanksgiving, yet even my wife and I gave in to the demand for Christmas early and have started listening to the holiday classics station in her car. But why?
On our social media news feeds, many of our friends have been broadcasting that they’ve decided to put up their holiday decorations early, and they’ve all had the same reason: Between COVID and everything going on around them and in their lives, they wanted something to be “merry” about for longer than the typical month. It’s like we’re all so worn down and exhausted inside and just want to capture the wonder, the warmth and the joy that comes with this time of year for as long as we can.
As we get older, we care less about getting items on sale from Best Buy, Kohl’s or Walmart and more about things that don’t come from Amazon Prime. We are less satisfied with what the world has to offer us, and yet we continue to want, continue to buy, to date, to party, to pursue pleasure and escape, all the while remaining wanting. We want that spirit of Christmas to distract us from reality, but we continue to fail to realize that what we really need is the Christ who is the wonder of Christmas, Christ who brings the warmth of love that is far better than any Hallmark Christmas movie.
It’s Christ who fills your heart with joy unspeakable that permeates your soul to such an extent that you could face tragedy, discouragement, difficulty and darkness while having an inner strength that sustains you and overflows your heart with peace when you have no natural reason to do so.
On the night he was born into our cold, cruel and broken world, the angel who appeared to the shepherds declared that there is one reason we can take heart despite the evil and hatred all around us, one reason we can have hope when all seems lost and hopeless, one reason that we can have faith in the face of fear: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).
The question each of us must ask ourselves is if we are willing to make room in our hearts for the child born in Bethlehem, because whether you realize he is the one you really want, he is the one we need.
“I don’t want a lot for Christmas; there is just one thing I need.” – Mariah Carey
Stephen Mitchell is the senior pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Severna Park. He also is the host of a regular podcast, “Real Christian Talk with Pastor Steve,” available on all podcast platforms.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here