Are you having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit this year?
I confess: I’m struggling!
And I feel guilty that I’m not experiencing the same emotions I usually experience. I feel like I should be excited; I should be full of anticipation, awe, and wonder.
But I’m not.
And forcing it—well, I feel fake.
Instead, I’m feeling overwhelmed, overextended; and to be sincerely honest, apathetic.
Christmas is a chore this year.
The frustrating part is, it hasn’t always been this way. I used to love Christmas! I couldn’t wait to set up the tree and decorate the house. I would start plotting gifts in July—excited to wrap them and put them under the tree. I enjoyed watching the boys stare at them, wondering who they were for and what was inside. I got a thrill each time they discovered another package with their name on it, igniting the curiosity in their eyes.
Not this year.
This year we set up the tree but didn’t decorate it until over a week later. The boxes of all the other decorations are currently cluttering my living room along with the piles of clean laundry. I had grand plans of how to decorate our newly remodeled living spaces, on what to put where—but I can’t seem to find the enthusiasm or time to do it.
This year, Christmas is just another To-Do list. Another obligation. Another expectation. I feel like Scrooge The Grinch Cindy Lou Who, and together we’re backing up Faith Hill singing “Where are you Christmas?”
Where are you Christmas?
Why can’t I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me?
Why can’t I hear music play?
My world is changing
…as I prepare for one son to head off to college; as I learn what it is to be a writer seeking publication and how it fits in with the rest of my world; as my other boys are transitioning to young men and wrestling with all the challenges that entails.
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Where are you Christmas?
Do you remember
The one you used to know?
I’m not the same one
See what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go?
I felt discouraged. Like the lights went out and I got lost in the darkness.
So I decided to listen to Christmas music. Really listen to it.
As those familiar songs infiltrated our home, I invited the lyrics to penetrate my heart. For years, I’ve just sung along, one song after another, not thinking about what I was singing—until this year.
And as I listened, I opened my Bible. Not just to the Christmas story but The Story. And that’s when God opened my eyes.
For the first time, I noticed how many of these songs present us with an invitation to COME and WORSHIP Jesus. And how many are songs of praise BECAUSE of His coming!
That’s the heart of Christmas! Worshiping Jesus!
But don’t stop there! Don’t stop at the shepherds seeing the angels and hearing their proclamation on the hilltop. Don’t stop at them kneeling before the manger and shouting up and down the streets for the everyone to “Come and see!” Don’t stop at the wise men presenting their gifts in honor of this child.
Flip over a few pages and see this child as an adult, teaching, mentoring, and discipling. See the power of heaven flow through him as he healed hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
But don’t stop there, flip a few more pages. And see this Man betrayed by a close friend. By one whom He loved. Count the silver, see the kiss. Witness the false arrest, the illegal trials, and the torturous beatings. Stand beside Jesus’ as He offers not a single word in His defense.
But don’t stop there! Keep reading. Listen to the hammer as it connects with the nail, driving it through our Savior’s hands, thrusting it through his feet. Hear His grunts of pain—but still, He doesn’t utter a word. Not until He’s upright, hanging. There He made sure his mother was cared for, pardoned a thief, and bore our sins. There He cried out in desolation when God abandoned Him, so we wouldn’t have to face that reality. And there He offered forgiveness to everyone—past, present, and future. And there He died.
Imagine the oppressive darkness that fell as all the angels were silent and the hordes of hell were in full victory dance. Go to the temple and see the massive six-inch veil torn in half from top to bottom giving ALL access to God through the blood Jesus just shed. Feel the ground tremble beneath your feet as she heaves in mourning her Creator. Observe the weeping of the brokenhearted, the despondent, and the guilty as they realize what they’ve done. Watch as two silent figures gingerly remove His body from the cross, carefully wrap it up, and lovingly lay it in a tomb.
But don’t stop there!
The Story isn’t done. Oh, the story isn’t done! Don’t stop there! Just a few verses more!
THE TOMB IS EMPTY! JESUS IS ALIVE!
Sin, shame—gone. Guilt, eternal separation from God—gone. Jesus gave His life so we could have life! He came as a human Child—God put on flesh to save His creation that couldn’t save itself.
Beloved, without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. We would be better off focusing on the buying, the eating, the drinking, the parties, the decorations, and Santa.
But we have Easter. This little baby, God in the flesh, grew up and became a Man. He died a brutal death, and He rose so we could have life!
“Come they told me pa rum pum pum pum/A new born King to see pa rum pum pum pum,” now takes on a whole different meaning, doesn’t it?
And “Come all ye faithful!” gathers in all those who love, believe, and follow Jesus. How can you not run into His presence?
And “Come let us adore Him!” becomes a call to “Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King!”
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
THAT IS CHRISTMAS!
Christmas is here everywhere, oh
Christmas is here If you care, oh
If there is love [the love of Jesus] in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time, oh
I feel you Christmas
I know I’ve found you
You’ll never fade away, oh
The joy of Christmas [of our Salvation]
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart
Where are you Christmas?
Fill your heart with love [Jesus, fill my heart with love]