What Makes Christmas So Great
Something Good is Being Prepared For You
Christmas is a crazy, beautiful time of year. I love listening to carols, especially the old classics. I also love looking at lights and elaborate decorations. I also love time together with family and friends. But looking back over the multitudes of Christmases, the best part has always been the hope of what presents I might get.
I loved making wish lists as a kid. Going through the gigantic Sears toy catalog and picking out what looked the most awesome. I didn’t always get what I wanted, even though I admit I was completely spoiled. I got more than I ever needed, certainly.
I would spend most of December trying to find hidden boxes throughout the house…hidden in closets, or under beds. And then when gifts would be set out under the tree, I would shake and rattle the wrapped boxes, trying to determine the contents.
When I try to put profound, grown-up words on what makes Christmas great, I come up with this: Christmas is great knowing that someone who loves you, is planning something special, specifically with your joy in mind. They are preparing something for you - to bring you happiness. This to me, is HOPE. The hope that someone who loves me is preparing something special for me - specifically with my joy in mind.
Still I have to admit that as I get older, I pretend it doesn’t matter so much that I didn’t get anything good for Christmas. “Oh socks! I love them! This sweater is beautiful - it’s so soft!” But I can’t escape the ache - the feeling that there should be something more. Something more in line with my heart’s deepest longings. I’m not even talking about presents. It’s not greed…it’s HOPE!!
There’s Got To Be Something More
I don’t know about you, but I feel this same way in life - there’s got to be something more! I feel the pain in life…the uncertainty…the fear…the confusion…the loneliness…and everything in me desires for it to be different. There is something in me that says this all could be different…and it probably should be. The difference between the way things are…and the way I desire them to be…creates a crazy dissonance within me. Dissonance…or tension. Dissonance is a musical term used when two or more notes that clash with each other are played simultaneously. Tension…between the way things are, and the way you feel they could be.
The dissonance or tension between the way things are and the way I would like things to be…drives me crazy! Because I HOPE! I HOPE for things to be better. For things to make sense. For things to have some purpose. Maybe you feel this way as well.
There is something in the deepest part of me that tells me it all can be better, maybe even that it will be this way one day, even though today, it might not look possible, at all.
Maybe this feeling was placed inside of us before we were even born.
We Are All Part of a Grand Story
I believe that we are all part of a grand story. Good stories all have a main character who experiences some kind of conflict, then a hero comes in and brings resolution - and there’s redemption, a rescue, a being saved. A resolution that reveals value to the whole story! You can’t have a good movie or book with just the rescue…you have to see the need for the main character to be rescued…or saved, if you will.
Life is a story of dissonance - a story of conflict. But I also believe it is a story of rescue. You are in the middle of a grand story. And there is a hero who is longing to rescue you, not to take you out of it, but to bring beauty to it, purpose, and meaning. And hope.
God Is That Someone
What makes Christmas great is when someone who loves you plans something special, specifically with your joy in mind. God is that someone, and God is doing just that for you! That’s what God’s been about for all of time - showing you love and a desire to invade your personal story - a story that you’ve been thinking was all up to you, or at least, simply a product of chance.
You now have a choice on how much you’d like to participate in this grand love story.
This time of year we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, and Christians believe that all the fuss is really worth it, viewing Jesus as physical representation (or incarnation) of God—the Divine Being with flesh on. With a voice we can hear, with a body we can touch, with love we can feel.
In layperson’s terms, Jesus came to explain God to us, to give us a primo example on how to live our lives in order to experience unity with God and with other people. It’s an invitation out of yourself, and into this grand love story—being fully loved, accepted, and celebrated by God and then choosing to love yourself and others in the same way.
As you begin to see Jesus as God’s gift to you this Christmas, then you’ll start seeing all the other great things God has for you—even things you might have missed in the past. As if a unique web of blessings becomes revealed—with you caught right in the middle of it.
But, you need to know that seeing Jesus as your hero isn’t going to get you out of prison. It isn’t going to heal all your broken relationships. It isn’t going to make everything shiny and new, like some TV preachers seem to announce. But seeing Jesus as God’s gift to you opens you up to all kinds of new possibilities; new ways of viewing yourself, viewing other people, and the circumstances of life you find yourself caught in the middle of. Things will start to blossom with meaning and purpose. I promise.
If this is something that seems to be stirring in your heart, I encourage you to read the Bible…to pray…to talk with other people about what they know about God…listen to teachers and preachers you feel you can trust. And never let go of the hope that God, who loves you deeply, is working to make something incredibly special out of your life…specifically with your joy in mind.
I was so honored to have been a guest on the "Real Life" program for the Cornerstone TV Network. Here's one of the songs I sang, "Let Me Be Joy To The World," the theme of my annual Christmas tour, and taken from my Christmas CD, Hope For The Holidays. Song written with and produced by Christopher Davis— and features the Nashville Soul Choir.