And yet this season is supposed to be a time of joy. Why isn’t it? Didn’t the angels proclaim on that night long, long ago to the shepherds, “Behold I bring you good tiding of great joy”?
Where did it get lost?
It’s according to where it was in the first place. Perhaps it never was there at all.
Christmas is a family time and the family is of the utmost importance. But if the total pleasure of celebrating Christmas is being with family, it rests in jeopardy. Families can break apart and disintegrate; relationships can change; death can take away all those we joy in. And there are many who have no family. They can’t make family the focus of their Christmas celebration. What happens if everything rests on the family ties, and suddenly there is no family gathering? There goes Christmas and in comes depression and sadness.
During this holiday season, loved ones will pass on; disappointment will come because someone can’t come home — tears will be shed for those who are missing from the dinner table.
Some base their Christmas happiness on being able to give — to help the poor; to cook for the hungry. All this is good and should be a part of a person’s Christmas celebration, but if circumstances prevent this from happening, will that destroy the giver because that was all Christmas was?
There are some people who exist for the excitement of Christmas — they love the hurry and scurry; they love the activities, the parties, the decorating and that’s not wrong. But if that is the total of Christmas, they’ll never experience the joy of knowing that Christ has come.
What if disappointment comes through loved ones or situations — sadness for the loss of a loved one ... changed circumstances that create an unpleasant economical situation? What if the string of lights go out and the star at the top of the tree just won’t blink?
All of this can happen, but Christ still came and Christ still lives.
None of this changes that eternal event. Whatever trappings the celebration of Christmas has — the Gift of God to this world came and nothing can change that.
So as the wise men who sought Jesus, what will you give Him? Never mind your gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. First of all, they fell down and worshipped Him. None of your gifts is of any use unless you first give yourself. And that’s where the great joy comes in. Your gifts then are precious as they are given to another. That’s how we give to Jesus now — through ministering to each other — not necessarily with gifts of tangible value. There’s nothing wrong with the practice of genuine gift-giving, but Jesus said that: “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart; and your neighbor as yourself.”
And when the gift comes from a heart full of joy that Christ brings, the gift keeps on giving ... and giving ... and giving. But sometimes we put more importance on the “wrappings” than the gift. It’s a tragic mistake to keep the wrapping and throw away the gift.
If any other than Jesus is the focal point of our celebration, that is what has been done.