I heard it again this morning, “Christmas is different this year. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas. ”
I’ve taken over preparing meals in our house. I make stews, stir sauces and bake the potatoes. Before you get too impressed, let me tell you that I am totally dependent on recipes. I’ve made mistakes following those recipes on several occasions and the result has been, “This just doesn’t taste quite right. There’s something different. Something is missing.”
Back to Christmas. It makes me sad when I hear so many people saying that Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas. Let me be clear, I’m feeling super “Christmassy” this year. I’ve been trying to put my finger on this year’s perceived shortcoming reflected in so many online posts, comments and conversations. Why is it different?
I’ve got tons of Christian friends who are militantly declaring war on those who might dare utter “happy holidays.” They are writing nasty letters about “holiday trees” and circulating petitions about annual nativity scene battles. They are pretty jazzed up about “keeping Christ in CHRISTMAS.”
I’ve got friends who take offense when people say, “Merry Christmas” and when children sing Christmas carols that mention “God” during public school holiday concerts.
I’ve got gun-loving friends who are posting tons of pictures of big guns and threatening scenarios urging me to do all I can to make sure I have the right to buy some gun that can shoot a billion rounds per second. I think, although on my computer screen, I’ve had more guns pointing at my face in the last ten days than ever before.
I’ve got gun-hating friends trying to persuade me to believe that evil men will stop doing evil things if we just make it so that I lose the right to buy a gun that can shoot a billion rounds per second.
I turn on the television and I get an earful of how many people died today in shootings and horrific fires and crashes. That leads into news of the Democrats and Republicans marching us toward a terrifying “fiscal cliff” of some sort because neither side is willing to compromise. I don’t comprehend what a “fiscal cliff” is but my experience has taught me that cliffs are bad and scary. Next comes a story of some jerk stealing donated Christmas toys, ripping off Christmas trees from a Little League sale or punching someone at Walmart. Twenty-three minutes of “look how bad things are” followed by a thirty-second holiday story of some secret Santa giving poor people hundred dollar bills.
It just doesn’t feel like Christmas? Something’s missing? Something’s different.
I think I know what’s missing for so many. I think, like the brownies I made without the eggs, the recipe is fine but we are not paying attention to the required ingredients.
Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold , I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Can you see the scene? On a hillside, the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low sit in the chill of the night huddled around a fire with one eye on their master’s sheep. They live in a society where the Roman government taxes them exorbitantly and imposes laws with harsh penalties. The average lifespan is somewhere around 40. Life is not easy at all.
Yet, in many ways, it was a simpler time. The troubles of the day weighed heavily on the people just as today’s troubles weigh heavily on us. Like the shepherds, we long for good news and great joy. And like the shepherds, we long for a savior to set things straight.
I believe in the same savior that the angels proclaimed but, let’s face it, America as a whole, abandoned that savior years ago in search of a better one. Christ has had very little to do with Christmas in America for decades now. I’ve been watching my favorite Christmas specials and apart from Charlie Brown, Christ is absent.
Rudolph? Nope. The Grinch? Nope. Miracle on 34th Street? Nada. It’s a Wonderful Life? Unh uh. The Nutcracker? Zip. I can list dozens
Christ has been missing from America’s Christmas for a long time. America wants the joy but doesn’t want the Christ.
This year’s recipe for many is again missing Christ but also has had very bitter ingredients added.
The thing about the joy recipe is that with Christ even life’s most bitter circumstances are overpowered with peace.
True Joy doesn’t come from circumstance. True joy comes from knowing Christ and, like the angels said, it’s for everyone.
Do things taste a little different this year? Does Christmas leave a bad taste in your mouth? I bet your recipe is missing some or all of the most important ingredient.
I wish you a joyous Christmas!