Saturday, December 10, 2016

Merry And Sad Christmas

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. It can also be one of the saddest. Jesus' birth was in a stable, since there was no room for his parents in the inn. The angels sang praise to the Prince of peace while the King of the Jews plotted his murder. Rather than returning home to family and friends, he spent his earliest years in Egypt as a fugitive from the wrath of Herod. Even when he did return home, it was to a little backwater village about which people said "can anything good come out of Nazareth."1

The traditions, sights and sounds of Christmas help us to remember. Many of those memories are filled with joy, and many of them with sadness. If you have lost a loved one, the holidays intensify the loss. There are losses other than death. The loss of relationships. The loss of health. For anyone who cares about the body of Christ there is great sadness over those who once served His body faithfully, and loved Him fervently who seemed to have become satisfied with spiritual mediocrity. Christmas intensifies those losses. It is not wrong to mourn the loss of a loved one, of a relationship, or the falling away of a brother or sister.  It is wrong to forget that Christmas holds the remedy for our loss.

Christmas is merry because it reminds us that God came to be with us. He knew the sadness of a sin-broken, sin-filled world, and so "The Word became flesh and took up residence among us." He saves His people. He shows the Father to us. as "the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." 3  How sad that the babe would grow to be the Man of Sorrows on the cross, and yet how joyous that in that act He took "away the sins of the world." 4  The sadness of this life is a reality, but so is the comfort of Christ who "had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested."

Sadness is inevitable, but Christ is available. He is available to comfort those who grieve. He is available to deliver us beyond the merriness of Christmas to the place of joy unspeakable. "You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 6  The answer to the sadness of Christmas is not a perfect tree, but dependent faith in Jesus who hung on the tree and rose again. The answer to the sadness of the world is not a positive or merry attitude, but the power of God with us in Christ Jesus the Lord.

1   John 1:46
2, 3  John 1:14
4   John 1:29
5   Hebrews 2:17-18
6   1 Peter 1:8-9