What Christmas Isn’t

Hark!A few days ago as I was in the middle of fixing dinner I turned on my Pandora app and listened to my favorite Christmas station.

As I listened the following lyrics from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” caught my attention:

“Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!”

While this has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols these words full of such hope, such promise shot straight to my heart. Tears welled in my eyes and goose bumps covered my skin. I couldn’t help but stop in the midst of my mundane task and wonder at all Christ brought to our world when he came to earth as a baby.

Throughout the Christmas season, especially on the heels of Thanksgiving, we hear a lot about the “Holi-daze” and all that makes life crazy this time of year. Just the other day I heard someone say that, for them, December is the worst month of all. Worst month of all? The idea made me so sad.

How and when did the blessing, the gift, the hope of Christmas become such a stress inducing burden?

I know the holidays can be hard, because life is hard. Families are torn apart every day, budgets are stretched to their max, and the pressure we feel to make our holiday perfect is enough to turn the Christmas season into a blur of hurt, debt, and stress.

Presents, wrapping paper, family gatherings, parties, Christmas carols, Christmas programs, Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, Christmas trees, traditions, baking, reindeer games. In and of themselves these things aren’t bad but whenever we allow ourselves to get caught up into the frenzy of a rushed, hurried, and hectic holiday we invite the opposite of what Christ brings to Christmas.

“Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ.” Ann Voskamp

When I first read these words they spoke truth to me, and I try my best to use them as a barometer for the way I celebrate Christmas. If and when I find myself getting caught in that which burdens I consider what Christmas is, and also what Christmas isn’t.

Christmas isn’t stress, it isn’t strife, it isn’t burden or debt. Christmas isn’t worry, or hurry, or fear. Christmas doesn’t cause ulcers, or heartburn, or headaches. Christmas is never a losing of hope or a stealing of joy.

December should never be the worst month of the year. December should be the absolute best month of the year because December, because Christmas, is about Christ. It’s about Christ and all he brought to this earth, this world, this life.

Peace.

Grace.

Joy.

Healing.

Hope.

Love.

Light.

Life.

Promise.

Freedom.

Rescue.

This holiday season if and when you find yourself getting caught in that which isn’t Christmas stop, breathe, and let go of all that burdens.  Get caught in the peace, the joy, the hope of Christmas.

Get caught in the wonder of Christ.

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