Cease striving and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
As we continue on this journey towards Christmas, I find my steps getting heavier and my breath shorter. My chest often feels heavy and my mind preoccupied. I think about Christmases past and wonder if I am ever going to discover the perfect Christmas I seek. Every year I have this dream: to create the PERFECT Christmas. Full of light, joy, love, and tradition. Sprinkle “over the top” Christmas decor in there and I think I would have a mix of a Glade candle commerical and a Hallmark movie. Set ridiculous expectations much? So, maybe I have unrealistic expectations, hence the fact that every year I fall further and further behind my goal of a “perfect” Christmas.
I don’t know if you can relate to these unattainable “Burling and Ives” dreams, but they are not life giving or encouraging. In the end they leave me feeling like I have missed something in all the chaos. I see people sitting for hours in traffic, rushing from store to store, worry lines creasing their brows as they stare blankly ahead of them. No doubt plagued by the lack of funds, bad memories of holidays passed, relatives coming to town, and the endless debt they will struggle to pay down all of 2016. Instead of peace and goodwill towards men, I find myself witnessing the complete opposite. Christmas, it seems to me, is in very real danger of ceasing to exist as I knew it. Forget dreaming of a “made for TV Christmas”, how about a smile from a stranger?
I remember Christmas being a showcase for the best in humanity. Now it seems to bring out the worst in individuals. Impatience, worry, fear, doubt, greed, selfishness, glutony, envy, chaos, hurry, these seem to be the adjectives I think of when I think of Christmas. Gone are the illusions of a perfect Christmas. I would settle for an ounce of heartfelt kindness and a hearty Merry Christmas. I mean, what if people knew they didn’t have to buy one another presents at exorbitant prices? What if people knew they didn’t need to RECEIVE expensive gifts? What if people looked up? Saw the stars shining and wondered about a baby boy. A baby born 2,000 years ago. And what if instead of pushing Him into the periphery of their minds, they unwrapped the story once more and pondered. And what if they were brave enough to follow the small light they found? And what if the light grew and extinguished the darkness they had grown accustomed to? And what if they found the light didn’t shame them, but cleansed them? And what if it didn’t just change all of Christmas, but all year too?
My prayer this Christmas is not for a perfect Holiday. I know better now. My prayer is for more people to see the true Light of the season. And for their eyes to meet the Light, whether for the first time or again. For people to be so enthralled by this pure Light they never look away. May we lay all our gifts at His feet and realize as we let go of things, we are truly rich for the first time. Shadows gone and faces shining with the same light that shines in the face of Christ Himself. Content at last. Having discovered, Emmanuel, God with us. The perfect gift.