THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

It is often said that Christmas is the most wonderful time of year - the air is filled with the magic of the season. Some would contend that it is just a very busy time of hustle and bustle - finishing the fourth quarter at work strong, wrapping up end of the year filings, shopping, endless obligations, baking, and of course attending multiple Christmas festivities. And there are some that would call this the saddest part of the year, because they will be spending the holiday without someone that they love.

I would like to share with you something that recently challenged this old Grinch (yes, that would be me) about Christmas. Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving and then rapidly welcomed in the Christmas season. I found myself with an opportunity to preach at a church in Ohio. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but for me to preach the Sunday right after Thanksgiving meant that I was stacking the deck against myself. One week after preaching in Ohio, we would be having our annual Night of Worship at OCC. The Sunday I preached was usually the Sunday that I would have a large team help me set up Christmas trees after church. But since I wasn’t there, that didn’t happen. While I was eager to serve the church in Ohio, the set back didn’t help my festive mood.

A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE

The Monday after I returned from Ohio, our intern and I assembled all fifteen Christmas trees on stage. It is generally at this early point that I’m done with Christmas and ready for it to be over. Bah Hum Bug! But the work was far from over! When we arrived on Tuesday, we put up 7,000 Christmas lights on this indoor forest of trees. On Wednesday, we setup all the LED lights and band gear so that we could have Worship Night rehearsal; and then we turned around to tidy up the stage on Thursday, so we could have our weekly rehearsal for Sunday Morning. Stage reset, especially at Christmas time, can require a whole of work packed in just a few days! It is a lot of Christmas to expect from a Grinch; but as I watched our Night of Worship unfold, something in my mind clicked. I don’t know that my heart grew two sizes that day, but my perspective certainly expanded in a way necessary to convict and change my heart. The frustrations, the plethora of Christmas tree scratches on my limbs, the grinchy attitude, all seemed to disappear as I was significantly reminded of why we do all this. It’s not about us; it’s all about Jesus! It’s all about creating an opportunity to experience His glory! The goal is to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and our reason to celebrate it!

FINDING PEACE AND JOY

It’s because of our Savior Jesus Christ that we can proclaim, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) This is not just a verse for those with a happy heart! I realize that this shift in focus doesn’t always take away the stress or the sorrows that we face, but it is a start. When we give Jesus a real chance, we will always be surprised and blessed at how He will come through! Life isn’t easy by any means and Christianity doesn’t make it easier, but it is the answer to finding peace and joy despite the circumstances. This time of year and all year through!

Christmas magic can be a distraction from the things in life that depress us, it can be a desperate race to find temporary happiness in the midst of our struggles, but the Magic of Christmas is real. And it is spelled: JESUS! This can be the most wonderful time of the year, or we can keep this perspective and have a most wonderful year!