The Christmas season for many people is a time of anxiety and stress. There are always those questions about what we are forgetting: Did everyone get a card who was supposed to, did we remember gifts for everyone, what are going to have for Christmas dinner, and who has what allergies or eating restrictions. Then there is the decorating, the financial worries, and the coming of relatives which may or may not be a happy experience. For many, Christmas and the holiday season means stress overload.
But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The commercialization of the holiday in many ways has taken away from the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is celebrated because it represents the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the coming of the light of God into this world. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we often light advent candles in church, representing the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christmas is supposed to be about. These were the things that Jesus came to the world to bring. These are the aspects of the holiday that are most important. These four words are what are supposed to guide our lives, our interactions, and our relationships with one another and the world.
With the coming of Christmas, the most important thing we can do is to set aside political strife, judgments of one another, hate, fighting, and discord, and to find a way to live life in hope of God’s promised peace by spreading his love, in joy for what new and wonderful things he promises to do in our world. It is up to us to make Christmas about something more than stress and anxiety and to make it about love and repaired relationships. It is up to us to make this Christmas season stand out and be more meaningful than ever before by living more fully into God’s light.
We celebrate the birth of Christ because as a baby he came to bring love into a world torn by political and religious upheaval. So the most important gift we could give to each other, the most important way to live into Christmas every day is to remember what Charles Spurgeon wrote, “And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing: good will towards men. Do not try to keep Christmas without good will towards men.” (Spurgeon, Sermons About Christmas)
Our good will toward each other will heal wounds, bridge rifts, and help to make this world a better and more respectful place to live. So from the Congregational Church of Easton, we wish everyone a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. Many blessings, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!