Have you ever gotten a gift that just wasn’t really for you? Maybe it was from a distant relative who doesn’t know you at all and didn’t really bother to figure out something that you would actually use. Maybe it was something you already had or the exact same thing you got from them last year – and also went to Goodwill.
Christmas feels like that for some, doesn’t it? You’re someone who just didn’t get the big deal about Christmas, or after years of trying to make it into something perfect and merry and, well, something it really cannot ever be exactly, that you just gave up and gave in to the cynic in you.
Or maybe Christmas is laced with sorrow and discomfort. More than just awkward family gatherings, maybe it’s darker than that. You can’t really be in the same room with certain people because of the past, secrets that have long worn down your heart.
I think you’re more like the people who were at the first Christmas than you ever knew. I bet you never really thought about just how much you, like the shepherds, the wise men, the innkeeper, need to see what happened that night. You never really thought much about a baby being born to save the world, and the skeptic in you has pushed off the trek to the stable, so to speak, because you just don’t see how it will make any difference.
And I also bet a visitor is coming your way. I also would not be surprised if you get invited to something you’d probably never go to on your own in a million years, or maybe you’ll feel a pull to step inside a church on the 24th or 25th for some strange reason. Like the shepherds, I suggest you run to it. I suggest you check it out and keep your eyes, and hearts, open to what you may find there.
And for Christians out there – The Church, capital C – maybe we aren’t creating enough encounters for people. Maybe we’re too busy defending our faith instead of explaining it. Maybe we’re too outraged and disgruntled about saying holiday to share the joy and peace of the season. Which by the way is an americanized way of saying holy day which may be more accurate in the long run anyway. But instead of showing grace, more than ever before, maybe people just don’t get to see Jesus because we’re so adamant about keeping it to ourselves the way we want it. Oh comfort and joy.
Truth is we all need Christmas – more than almost anything else there is in life. We need that Christmas that started all Christmases, no matter how twisted and corrupted it has become. We need to remember that Christmas happened, that it happened for us, for you, for me. And maybe the people who need Christmas the most are the ones who want it the least. Jesus came for those who wanted nothing to do with him. He came for them and he died for them. And he is coming again for them. And that is the Christmas story. He came and he’s coming back. What did he give you? I have a guess. It’s pretty much the best gift ever. I know because I got it too. I needed it and use it all the time, and need it more and more every passing year. More of him. More of his love. More of his grace and mercy. More of his peace.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Make Christmas again for those of us who need it most.