I have a love-hate relationship with this season. I find Christmas energizing. When I walked into our office this morning the decorations were up. The room felt brighter, more hopeful, more special. I love it.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son…”
“The Word became flesh, full of grace and truth, and we beheld His glory, as of the only son of the Father.”
I love the manger scene and the star and the choir of angels. I know the wise men came later, but they came eventually and they are part of my crèche. God enters our world for our benefit. He loves us. Jesus is the reason for the season. I do feel His love.
But then I get frustrated with the crowds and the pressure to make the right purchase and the extra expense… I feel overwhelmed and instead of being grateful I get irritable. I have one friend who, every so often, greets me with “Merry damn Christmas”! I smile ‘cause I feel that way sometimes.
It shouldn’t be that way. I should be grateful and happy all the time. I want to savor the memories. I really do. But sometimes the memories aren’t good. And sometimes I’m not nice.
But to tell you the truth, those are the moments when I think I come closest to realizing the “true meaning” of Christmas. My Father in heaven wasn’t just playing nice, being warm and fuzzy, when He sent that babe in a manger. Jesus would not have been on my Christmas list. Instead I would have asked for more money or fewer problems or less disappointment in myself and in others. But I had a bigger problem and He wanted to fix it. This baby was born to die, to sacrifice Himself for me. And that would be my real Christmas gift. Jesus would die that I might be forgiven, that my frustration and unloving nature might be wiped clean. Jesus would die that I might live.
Christmas reminds me of His love. Christmas also reminds me of my self-centered, demanding, and unkind heart. And that reminds me of the real gift. In the big picture, we don’t remember a manger. We remember a Cross. In the big picture, His gift wasn’t warm and fuzzy. It was incredibly sacrificial and transformative.
So this Christmas, I hope God catches me with His Christmas Spirit. I pray I can really enjoy the wonderful gifts I have been given. And I pray that He catches me at my worst… in order to remind me of how great His gift truly is. Merry Christmas, friends.
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.