I remember a time when I went shopping on Christmas Eve for some last minute gifts (okay, probably all of my gift shopping was done that year on Christmas Eve) and was reminded why that was a bad idea. On the eve of what continues to be communicated and sold as the most joyful time of the year, a time of making happy memories and a season of giving, the not-so-hidden ugly side of the holiday was exposed. This is a season filled with stress and anxiety.
I realize many of you live to shop and give good gifts. It’s part of your language of how you demonstrate love towards others. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy giving gifts that make others smile and more so, love receiving gifts from those like you (hint, hint). Yet, in all of our gift-hunting, gift-shopping, and gift-giving there is still an often unsettling side to this commercialized Christmas that we continue to participate in.
Isn’t Christmas really about something far more fulfilling than giving and receiving gifts? The annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ has everything to do with God declaring His love and mercy to a world that is constantly in need of a greater hope. A hope that doesn’t seek to pacify our deeper frustrations, fears, and failures by sipping peppermint mocha’s while filling a giant red cart at Target. After all the presents have been unwrapped and gifts opened, the deeper longings of the heart are still there, nagging and aching away, going unfulfilled.
The true hope of Christmas is a far more satisfying truth that calms the heart, brings perfect contentment, and restores the broken relationships that you are avoiding or simply “dealing with” this year. The hope of Christmas is a holy declaration from God that simply and profoundly says, “You are forgiven.”