This post was first published on Dec 19, 2010.
It’s not even a week to Christmas. I’ve been thinking about the meaning of Christmas A LOT. This phrase “spoiled/ruined Christmas” haunts me. I used to think that from the whole year, Christmas was one thing that had to be perfect. I mean, there’s all this glitz and glamour, all these colours attached to Christmas, all these nice smells from pine trees to apple cider and Gluehwein to delicious baking, and my favourite songs ever are Christmas songs.
Growing up we did not celebrate the Advent season as we do now. Christmas was a very short affair. There were no Advent calendars to help us with the countdown to Dec 24, and for the first 14 years of my life Christmas was an illegal holiday (for us living in the Soviet Union), that was celebrated “underground”.
So here I am, 32 years later, pondering about a ruined Christmas. Maybe because I’ve heard this phrase so much over the last few years.
Why is it that if something bad happens during the Advent/Christmas season I tend to think that it’s ruining my Christmas?
If someone I know passed away around Christmas, I used to think it was ruining our Christmas. My grandma died on Christmas morning many years ago. It was a very different Christmas for all of us. But was it really ruined? If I base my Christmas on all the glitz and glamour, and everything else that goes with it, yes, I guess, that really ruined my/our Christmas.
Where is Christ Jesus in my Christmas? What and Who do I really celebrate on Christmas? He is not a little, helpless baby anymore. He is “seated in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 1:20)
Today I firmly believe, that Christ is especially present on Christmas, when everyone around me thinks that my/our Christmas is ruined. When I have lost a loved one, when someone I know had a really bad accident and is in hospital with severe injuries, when someone I love struggles in their marriage or even goes through divorce.
For all the pain we are facing, Jesus is there. He came into this world to help us deal with life and all that comes with it. “I am the LORD, your healer,” God said in Exodus 15:26. Whether it’s physical or emotional pain we’re facing, HE is our LORD, our Healer! And I think especially at Christmas it’s good for me to remember that.
I know a thing or two about pain and hurt & Christmas. I remember the first Christmas after the divorce. We had moved to Germany a few months before, and it was all new to us: a new place to live, new family dynamics, new Christmas traditions that we were starting…
I remember the girls opening their presents on that particular Christmas, they were so excited, they liked the presents, it was mostly toys those years. They played for hours with their new toys. And after they were in bed, I realized there was not a single present for me under the tree. I cried for hours that night, and I promised myself that would never happen again. And so in the years that followed I would always put a present for myself under the tree. When the girls got older and realized that I was giving myself a present, they joked a lot about it. Actually they still do.
But today, as I look back on that Christmas I KNOW that Jesus was right there in that living room, He was with me while I cried. I did not realize it at that time, but today I know that He was there. He held his arms around me and gave me strength to face Christmas day, and boxing day, and the next day… And the thing is, if you have not experienced pain and hurt on Christmas, than you won’t understand it, you really won’t. Even the best imagination does not help! That’s where Jesus comes in. He knows, he feels our pain, He came to heal us, He came to ease our pain and hurt. I love, love, love Hebrews 4:16:
” So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
And when I look at the news, what’s happening around me, around the world, there is so much more pain that I’ve never even come close to experience. When I think of the people in Haiti, what Christmas they’ll have in their tents, with barely the basics to live… That’s where Jesus comes in. He came, He was born, He lived, He healed, He died and rose again, and He’s at God’s right hand right now. And we are invited to “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” That’s the message of Christmas, that’s the meaning of Christmas to me.
If anyone has a perfect Christmas, I say, “Good for you.” I have not had a perfect Christmas in my life yet. Looking back, there was either one thing or the other, that caused some degree of hurt and pain. And that’s because I’m not perfect and neither is anyone in my family, and I am living in an imperfect world. But there is mercy and grace waiting for me, for us, when I/we need it most. And I’ve got the feeling that’s especially true during the Advent and Christmas season. We put our hopes so high around this time of year, that no one on this planet can meet our expectations. No one, except Jesus, born on Christmas many years ago. I’m so grateful to know Jesus personally. He is my Lord, my Saviour!
No, it won’t be a ruined Christmas for me, because Christ Jesus is my Christmas!
Merry Christmas everyone!