Monday, December 22, 2014

The Status of Christmas

Chuckle:  “The Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants.” –John Haynes Holmes   
Quote:  "To perceive Christmas through the wrapping becomes more difficult every year." --E. B. White  
    Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you . . .” (John 14:27 NIV).  “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”  (John 15:11 NIV).Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12 NIV).  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . for your souls”  (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV).     
During the Christmas holidays, we all want to experience love, peace, joy, and find time for adequate rest.  No other time of year is associated with these desires like the Christmas season as we search for a sense of happiness and contentment.  Most of us enjoy the excitement and festivities of Christmas; but many find the holidays stressful and exhausting.  Planning Christmas parties, nonstop shopping, decorating, making travel plans, and obligations to work and family can create severe stress, especially if we leave no quiet time for worship.  “The Christmas season is marked by greater emotional stress and more acts of violence than any other time of year.”  --California Dept. of Mental Hygiene
It’s the secularization and commercialization of Christmas that wears us out the most and leaves us empty of true serenity and fulfillment.  Christmas can be a time of joy and peace when we make it a worship experience and keep Christ at the center of our celebrations.  Christmas can be a spiritual, emotional, and physical healing experience if we approach it with an attitude of praise, thanksgiving, and awe.
In John 14-15 and Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus provide us a formula for lasting love, rest, peace, and joy.  They all come as we remain in Christ, follow Him, and obey Him.  He said,  “I will give you my peace;”  “Love each other as I have loved you.”  “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you that your joy will be complete.”  “come to me . . . and I will give you rest.”  Nowhere does Jesus tie love, peace, joy, and rest to non-stop scurrying about to find that perfect gift or planning that perfect Christmas party. 
Of course, participating in Christmas festivities and gift shopping can be fun and fulfilling as we show our love and appreciation for family members and friends.  However, this fulfillment cannot compare to that of knowing we are honoring the One whose birthday is the reason for the season.  Following is a sad commentary on the status of Christmas. 
To many, Christmas is an excuse to get drunk, have a party, get something, give a little, leave work, get out of school, spend money, overeat, and all kinds of other excesses. But for Christians it is a time and reason for us to exalt Jesus Christ in the face of a world that is at least tuned in to His name.” –Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green

Love, Jerry & Dotse       


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