Many of us are still in voluntary lock-down or quarantined. Many face Christmas without seeing any of our loved ones; Grandmas and Grandpas must look forward to visiting with precious children and grandchildren via Skype or FaceTime instead of being able to physically hold and cuddle their loved ones. Many families are feeling economic pressure and are unable to buy presents or the ingredients for the usual big sumptuous dinner. Over three hundred thousand families have lost loved ones this year due to this one virus alone. It will be a bittersweet celebration.
It is a sobering time, but one which calls for us to paste on our “Cheerful Charlie” masks in order not to spoil it for the children. Different. Thought provoking.
I don’t know about you, but the secular version of Christmas seems even more jangling and off-key than usual this year. I find the constant pressure to “buy, buy, buy” and the jazzed-up carols and cheap tinsel-draped store displays seem even more off-message than usual. This year I need to focus hard on the faithfulness of the Father, and His love for us. In Christmas, the message is strong and clear. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… and gave us the opportunity, through His birth, death, and resurrection, to be restored to fellowship with the Father. No matter what the circumstances in the world, His love for us is eternal. This is a time for genuine faith.
It is hard to understand His mind when we see the chaos and heartbreak and fear which is being experienced by humanity all over the world. Is He just reminding us that man is not sovereign, but that He is still in control? Is this plague a call to repentance? Is it part of the final wind-down before the Rapture? No one really knows; all we know is that no matter what circumstances seem to tell us, He still cares. He still loves us. He is still there, and in the end it will all be just and righteous. He has not deserted His people.
That baby in the manger was the fulfillment of His love for us. Jesus, the Christ, brought us salvation and eternal life. This year more than ever we should be prepared to put aside all the trappings of the secular holiday, and keep the real meaning of Christmas as the center of our celebrations. God is faithful. His will prevails, in spite of everything we see around us.
We can go through the motions of Santa and gifts and all the things that have come to accompany our celebration (and in some cases overwhelm them), but I hope that this year those of us who know the Savior will just give our deepest, most profound thanks for the faithfulness of our God: past, present and future. Christ is born. Alleluia!