CHRISTMAS

Is it okay for Christians to hate Christmas?

This is the paradox I’ve been living for years – a follower of Christ dreading the season of Christmas. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had lofty expectations of how “perfect” everything should be during this time of year... when I was younger I always pictured my family sitting around the tree holding hands while singing a beautifully harmonious rendition of Silent Night. (Seriously.)

Christmas usually went a little different than the pictures I had in my head and I slowly stopped putting all my hope in having a perfect holiday season. Every year Christmas seemed harder, and I started to become angry and couldn’t figure out why. I had disdain toward “The most wonderful time of year” and it left me feeling bitter and lonely.

I am still on this journey, but I’ve started to realize that all my dissatisfaction toward this season was rooted first in seeking satisfaction within it. I was expecting the 25th of December to give me warm fuzzies, make me feel loved and heal the pain in my life. No wonder I always came up dry.

Christmas represents a baby coming to this Earth to deliver us from the bondage of sin. Christmas does not have to be about the pain of failed expectations, because Jesus puts so much more meaning in it. The pain that I feel during a holiday season is the exact thing that Jesus wants to replace with joy in Him.

I’ve found that “Love, joy, and peace” are not to be associated with a season, but a person: Jesus. I’ve found that no one day of the year can be a quick-fix to filling the holes we’ve felt the other 364 days, nor can it magically change our hearts to forgive the action of others who have hurt us.

If you can relate to my experience at all, I invite you to join me this year in consciously recognizing Jesus’ work despite the pain or bitterness, and ask Him to replace those feelings with joy.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

The Gift of Expecting

I know what your thinking…"Its time to deck the halls, gear up for family drama, and load up my credit cards on presents for people I only see or talk to a couple times a year.” Its Christmas time. And for most, its a time of keeping your head barely above water trying to catch your breath. But does Christmas have to be this way? The Bible paints a different picture of Christmas.  

Isaiah 40:3,5 says to: “Prepare a road for the Lord through the wilderness, clear a highway across the desert for our God. ... Thus shall the glory of the Lord be revealed” 

 

Our goal starting this Sunday is not to add to the noise of this world. But to remove the plastic, metal and fabric to make way for the Messiah in our lives. Then and only then we can breathe. So come prepared this Sunday to receive a gift like no other, the gift of expecting.

Believe

blog-post-12-14 "I hope that the first lesson you will learn in the Christmas story is to be patient with God." I read this quote while reading a devotion about Elizabeth and Christmas. I found this quote interesting because it showed me a different side of the Christmas Story I had never seen. Normally when we hear of Elizabeth, the focus is on John, the forerunner of Jesus, the one who would be that witness crying in the wilderness.

But, in this one quote, I began to realize that Elizabeth is more than the mother of John the Baptist. She is actually a person who in the midst of great difficulty and tragedy remained faithful, remained patient, and never lost her faith in the Lord. To be barren was a mark on one's reputation. Whispers of wonder would circle, contemplating why God had punished this faithful couple. Doubt would sink in and maybe even cause them to question themselves. But not Elizabeth; she remained patient, she remained faithful, and God rewarded her.

Disappointment is a reality of life. But, we serve a God who is above it all. The challenge is whether or not we will remain patient and trust Him through whatever it is we face. This is one of the purposes of Christmas, to prove that God really is trustworthy. He really does follow through on His promises. THIS Christmas, "pray fervently and believe that God is listening to your prayers."

(Quotes from Joy to our World! A countdown to Christmas on YouVersion Bible App.)

Matt Priebe - Family Pastor