Unmerry Christmas?

Who doesn’t love Christmas? The festive music, colorful lights, cards in the mail from old friends — odds are, you’re in the midst of many of these celebratory expressions. And rightly so. For Christmas is about celebrating the greatest event in history: God giving humanity the gift of salvation through his Son Jesus.

Even unbelievers can’t help but celebrate this season. And even the most carnal Christmas festivities involve gift giving. Ever stop to consider that your Christmas bonus is connected to the worship of wise men 2000 years ago?

As many Christmas movies remind us (Scrooge stories in particular), our primary focus shouldn’t be material trappings, expectations, or stress they can generate. The gift of Jesus Himself is our cause for celebration.

However, resisting the materialistic pull may not be the biggest Christmas challenge Christians face. It’s very possible that the biggest Grinch trap of all is our own self-absorption.

Think about it. Most of us enjoy the holiday with carefully chosen family and friends. It can be tempting to bask in Christmas joy with no regard for others outside our guest list.

What about the many people who do not like Christmas? Not because they are miserly Scrooges, atheists, or anti-Christian, but simply because they are unloved?

For many people, holidays like Christmas are painful. Such gathering times remind them how alone they are. When such people, seeing a smiling family in the parking lot forces recollection how dysfunctional (perhaps abusive) their family life is/was. Wrapped gifts are reminders others don’t like them. Every symbol we enjoy — songs, lights, cookies, cards — all call to mind they’ll be alone December 24th, and 25th … etc.

There’s a reason depression and suicide attempts rise around Christmas time.

So, as you get groceries, shop for gifts, and mail packages this week, don’t just celebrate Jesus. Continue his mission: to bind up the brokenhearted and bear good news. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the lost and lonely around you.

She may be the downcast bank teller. He might be your grumpy mailman. They might be the rambunctious kids at Wal-Mart who have exhausted mom but no dad. Whether complete strangers, lonely neighbors, or fringe friends — find those who need good news and bless them in Gospel love. Whatever it costs you (a few minutes? a handful of dollars?), it will be worth it.

When we were most needy, God moved into our neighborhood. As recorded by the Apostle John,
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (NIV).

King Jesus came to earth humbly, meekly, gently. Sent on a divine rescue mission, He freed us from the captivity of sin, pardoned our guilt, and delivered us from death. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Let us now continue His mission, bringing the light of Christ to those around us in darkness.

Rejoicing with you in Jesus Christ our Lord,