A short series in Advent focusing on a few significant snapshots of the Christmas story and the amazing gifts they reveal.
Christmas Eve is both joyful and difficult for me.
After we were married and had children we celebrated Christmas Eve with my family.
Early evening we attended candlelight service at church then went to my parents home. We were greeted with eggnog and appetizers. Then in the family room in front of a blazing fire we’d open gifts. Christmas was big for my mom so she always bought lots.
Our kids giggled with excitement and loved grandma’s.
After gifts we ate dinner and dessert.
What great memories.
When my parents both died in 2004, it left a hole that quite frankly still has never been filled up.
I understood firsthand how people struggle so much with Christmas.
Missing the fond memories or mourning never having had them.
It’s why I find the shepherds part of the Christmas story so compelling.
A group of shepherds are sleeping in the fields with their flocks overnight. They’re cut off from loved ones and lonely.
Then an angel appears to announce the birth of Jesus the long awaited Messiah.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2: 10-14 NIV)
I see a few so needed gifts, particularly at Christmas, that are promised in our relationship with this Jesus.
First, joy. Not happiness which depends on circumstances and so fluctuates. But a deep joy that wells up from inside consistently.
Second, each of us can experience it. It’s for everyone.
Third, peace. No matter the hurts that may be amplified by Christmas, God offers a deep undeniable peace.
Fourth, we can have a relationship with the God of creation who loved us so much he sent his only son to be with us.
Fifth, his blessings and love rest on us and will for all eternity.
And so as I write this a few days before Christmas I know the heart ache will appear but also the peace and joy as well.
The hurts of Christmas may never entirely leave but they can be replaced with joy and peace everyday.
How has your relationship with the Jesus of Christmas brought you joy and peace?