Christmas. It is the most wonderful time of the year, right? I would have to agree. There are few things I love more than this time of year. The decorations. The yummy food. The carols. The list making (this is a year round activity for some though). The shopping. The holiday parties. The generosity of others. Getting away with wearing more sparkles than any time of year other than New Year’s Eve, or for others the only time of year where busting your tackiest sweater out of hiding in the cedar chest is socially acceptable. The time spent laughing and relaxing with family. Some of my favorite family traditions and memories surround Christmas. There is a cheer in the air this time of year and a special warmth that seems to only surround us at Christmas. And it feels good. And it is heart-warming. And it can bring us happiness. But this Christmas, more than any in previous years, Peter and I have been thinking about more than just the warmth, merriment and temporal happiness surrounding this holiday.
When Christmas day comes and goes this year, when all the presents have been opened and all the cookies have been eaten and the once brightly lit tree is dim and starting to wilt, we don’t want the happiness to pass along with it. We don’t want to feel regret in the pit of our stomach that maybe we had it all wrong, that maybe we were a bit out of balance, and now the day has passed. All of the these things that we love about Christmas and that help us define Christmas are good things, but they are not THE thing. We want more than just happiness this year. We want JOY. We want PEACE. We want to remember, and not just in passing, the real thing to be celebrated at Christmas, Jesus.
All of the great and fun things surrounding Christmas can bring us happiness but they cannot bring us joy. They were not designed to. Joy comes in spite of circumstances and the peace that passes all understanding can only come from God. So many times we get it wrong. So many past Christmases have come and gone and I have been left wondering what I should have done differently and prayerfully apologizing for only paying a passing tribute to the one for whom the day is named. Peter and I don’t want that this year. We want to celebrate the season for all it is worth. We want the pretty decorations. We are definitely going to enjoy the delicious cookies, and polish sausage and French toast brunch. We can’t wait to see the looks on our kids’ and family members’ faces as they open their gifts. I have already spent many hours dancing and singing like a fool to Christmas music. We don’t want to take away the sweetness and beauty of time spent doing these things with the people we love most, but we don’t want to miss the real beauty and Truth of this season either. This year, more than ever, we are consciously making a choice to celebrate Jesus, to remember Jesus, to mediate on Jesus, to thank Jesus and to make everything we take part in this year be an act of worship to Him. God’s word says “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17). We are applying that to the way we celebrate this year. We aren’t giving up any of the traditions and elements of Christmas that we love, but we are doing them purposefully, remembering why we do what we do. It is our hope that at the end of this Christmas we are able to say “So THIS is Christmas!”