The holidays can be a busy and stressful time for most people. This year, because of the pandemic, some people may be finding it even more stressful. Loss of jobs, loss of income, even loss of homes are some of the factors that can contribute to that stress. You can’t buy gifts for your loved ones the way you normally do; you can’t even socialize with them the way you would like to. Nothing about 2020 is normal. And since it isn’t normal, your reaction to this year must also be outside of the norm.
I don’t mean this in a bad sense. I don’t mean you must go out and do things that would get you into trouble. What I mean is, Christmas 2020 is a time when you should take a hard, critical look at the way you have been doing things in the past. Do you really have to clean the house from top to bottom? Do you have to try out new recipes to impress your family? Do you have to buy the most expensive gifts your credit card will allow? Or the most expensive decorations?
We have gone through nine months of living hell here in the US and other parts of the world. Nine months. Ask any woman who has given birth and she will tell you that those months can seem like an eternity. Still, she waits with patience and some nervousness for it to be over. And when it is over, she looks at her brand new gift with pride and joy. Will we do the same when COVID-19 is over? Will we have given birth to something we can be proud of? A new attitude, a new perspective, a new appreciation for all God has given us?
While expensive gifts and decorations and all the holiday trimmings help to enhance the festive atmosphere of Christmas, they have no bearing on the meaning of Christmas, and their appeal is short-lived. In case you didn’t know it, the meaning of Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Christ child who was born of a virgin named Mary and who was destined to be the Savior of the world. You can read about it in Luke 2: 1 – 16.
The gospel of Matthew gives another version of the events surrounding Jesus’s birth. It says in chapter 2 verse 1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Some of you may have heard that this evening the planets Jupiter and Saturn will merge, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century. Wherever in the world you are right now, you can see what has been dubbed the “Christmas Star” in the west/southwest part of your sky. I didn’t go out to look at it -there are buildings blocking my view – but I believe it’s no coincidence that we are seeing a star in the sky just around the time we celebrate the birth of Christ.
So what does this have to do with Christmas stress? It means we should be looking to follow the star through His word and spending time with Him. Make your Christmas preparations if you must, but don’t let that rob you of your joy and your peace. After all, the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds said to them, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2 : 14).
May the peace of Christmas fill your heart and home this Christmas season. Merry Christmas! I pray that this Whitney Houston’s rendition of Joy To the World blesses your heart as it does mine.