Merry Christ-mess

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The older I get, the more I see pain am­pli­fied dur­ing this sea­son. Though Christ­mas should bring out the best, some­times it brings out the worst. The pres­sure cooker of per­for­mance proves to put strain on many of us. In our al­ready over-stuffed lives, we’ve tried to squeeze in more ac­tiv­i­ties, chores, fi­nan­cial costs and maybe too many rel­a­tives into just a few days. We’ve bought into a big lie. The lie is that Christ­mas or the hol­i­days or what­ever you wish to call them should be per­fect. We’ve got it so messed up. The world has served up this per­ceived idea of “peace on earth” all the while we are yelling at our kids, max­ing out our credit cards, overeat­ing, or drown­ing our sor­rows. We’ve bought into the ide­al­ized idea that ev­ery­thing must be just right in or­der for our sea­son to be a suc­cess. Yet, our lives are far from per­fect. Many of us put on our “face” and “do” Christ­mas. In the midst of this mess, we can take heart! As we read in Isa­iah 53 we find that Je­sus was fa­mil­iar with hard times. “Who has be­lieved our mes­sage and to whom has the arm of the Lord been re­vealed? He grew up be­fore him like a ten­der shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to at­tract us to him, noth­ing in his ap­pear­ance that we should de­sire him. He was de­spised and re­jected by mankind, a man of suf­fer­ing, and fa­mil­iar with pain. Like one from whom peo­ple hide their faces he was de­spised, and we held him in low es­teem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suf­fer­ing, yet we con­sid­ered him pun­ished by God, stricken by him, and af­flicted. But he was pierced for our trans­gres­sions, he was crushed for our in­iq­ui­ties; the pun­ish­ment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” I’m re­minded of the Bill Gaither song we sang when we trav­elled with the Chris­tian Cow­boys. Rarely could I sing it with­out tears com­ing to my eyes. Here are the words: “When you’ve knelt be­side the rub­ble of an aching, bro­ken heart when the things you gave your life to fell apart. You’re not the first to be ac­quainted with sor­row, grief or pain but the Mas­ter promised sun­shine af­ter the rain. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morn­ing. Weep­ing only lasts for the night. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morn­ing. The dark­est hour means dawn is just in sight. To in­vest your seeds of trust in God in moun­tains you can’t move, you have risked your life on things you can­not prove. But to give the things you can­not keep for what you can­not lose... now, that’s the way to find the joy God has for you. Hold on my child. Joy comes in the morn­ing. Weep­ing only lasts for the night. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morn­ing. The dark­est night means dawn is just in sight.” It’s not a co­in­ci­dence that the third can­dle in the ad­vent wreath for this week sym­bol­izes joy. As the lyrics to this song sug­gest, joy comes af­ter we’ve gone through tough stuff. Have you ever thought that Je­sus came to join us in our messes? He isn’t afraid to get in­volved in our drama. In fact, He came to bring peace to our drama... joy to our de­pres­sion... love to our re­jec­tion ...and com­fort to our pain. “The Son of God ap­peared for this pur­pose: to de­stroy the works of the devil.” Christ­mas is not per­fect. It was never meant to be per­fect. The bot­tom line is that Christ­mas is about Je­sus com­ing to bring His light, His love, His free­dom, His heal­ing, His glory and ev­ery­thing else that He rep­re­sents to each one of us... To YOU! This year, ask Je­sus to come to your Christ-mess. Let Him bring joy into your dark­est night. Let Him in. Let Je­sus Christ – the anointed One – give you a new and fresh start this Christ­mas. Scrip­ture ref­er­ence: 1 John 3:8

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