The Mer­ri­fi­ca­tion of Christ­mas

Record Observer - - Religion -

One word de­fines Christ­mas. It is the word “merry.” I never tire of wish­ing peo­ple a Merry Christ­mas. Al­though, for some, it may not be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, but for the rest of us who have at least two gray cells work­ing, it is won­der­ful.

I was re­lax­ing one af­ter­noon this past week when the Gra­cious Mistress of the Par­son­age ap­proached me with a re­quest. It is very dif­fi­cult for me to deny her re­quest, even though it goes against my cur­rent en­ergy sta­tus.

“Would you,” she said so very sweetly, “go to the mall and pick up a gift that I had or­dered?”

Be­ing mar­ried to GMP for more years than I can re­mem­ber, is very dif­fi­cult for me to say no. Ac­tu­ally, even when I do say no, some­one on the other end of the con­ver­sa­tion is not lis­ten­ing.

I should be rather grate­ful, be­cause of all of the hus­bands she has, I am the only one she asks to do fa­vors. Through the years, I have gath­ered that I must be her fa­vorite hus­band. So, in a re­ally grate­ful frame of mind, not to men­tion merry, I headed for the mall to get her pur­chase.

I am not sure if there is an­other place in the whole world that I hate worse than go­ing to a shop­ping mall. If there is, I haven’t got there yet. Ev­ery time I walk into a shop­ping mall, I get ner­vous be­cause ev­ery­body is look­ing at me, es­pe­cially at my wal­let. Even my wal­let shivers when we walk through the open­ing door.

Just get­ting in­side the shop­ping mall is a drain on my “merry” at­ti­tude. I fig­ured be­fore I re­ally get started I should grab a cup of cof­fee and go sit down in a lounge chair.

There was a cof­fee shop in the mall and I got a $0.79 cup of cof­fee for $7.90. I guess where you put the dec­i­mal is re­ally im­por­tant. Per­son­ally, I would have en­joyed a $0.79 cup of cof­fee more.

I got my cof­fee, sat down in one of the lounge chairs, took a deep breath, a nice gen­tle sip of hot cof­fee and started to re­lax. Christ­mas mu­sic was be­ing played in the back­ground, which con­trib­uted to my re­lax­ing at­ti­tude.

The mall was rather crowded, peo­ple were hur­ry­ing here and there, in the back­ground Merry Christ­mas mu­sic was be­ing played and I thought I would just take the time and en­joy the mo­ment.

Af­ter I got through about half of my cof­fee, I hap­pened to look around care­fully watch­ing the peo­ple com­ing and go­ing. There was such a rat race go­ing on that I could hardly be­lieve it. I looked around try­ing to find some Merry Christ­mas faces. Un­for­tu­nately, there was not any in the direc­tion I was look­ing.

“I hope they don’t run out of this be­fore I get there,” I heard some­one com­plain­ing.

“I hope I have enough money to cover this,” some­one else com­plained.

“I hope I can get it in time to get to the party tonight,” com­plained an­other per­son.

I lis­ten to all of this and was sim­ply amazed. Where in the world was this merry spirit that Christ­mas is most noted for? Ev­ery­body was hop­ing for some­thing, but their hope did not seem too re­al­is­tic from my point of view.

At the mer­ri­est time of the year sit­ting in a place where peo­ple were buy­ing Christ­mas presents, it was very dis­con­cert­ing to re­al­ize there were not that many merry peo­ple in the mall. Ev­ery­one seemed to be un­der some kind of pres­sure and ag­gra­va­tion.

A thought be­gan to jin­gle in my mind. What would it take for some peo­ple to re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence a Merry Christ­mas? What would make them merry?

Tak­ing an­other sip of this ex­pen­sive “Merry Christ­mas” cof­fee, I be­gan to think about life in gen­eral. Am I re­ally liv­ing a merry life? Or, am I all caught up with the hol­i­day sea­son?

Just be­cause some­one says, “Merry Christ­mas” does not mean in fact that they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any­thing quite near to merry.

Watch­ing peo­ple scram­ble here and there in the shop­ping mall, I re­al­ized that merry had noth­ing to do with Christ­mas. For so many peo­ple, Christ­mas is a time when you are so busy try­ing to get things to make other peo­ple “merry” that the whole spirit es­capes.

What we re­ally need dur­ing this par­tic­u­lar hol­i­day sea­son is what I call, The Mer­ri­fi­ca­tion of Christ­mas. Christ­mas is what it is, but there is the pos­si­bil­ity of re­ally hav­ing a Merry Christ­mas if you un­der­stand what the at­ti­tude of merry is all about.

It is not about gifts, or par­ties, or trav­el­ing. It is some­thing more sub­stan­tial than that. In or­der for me to Mer­rifi­cate my life, I need some­thing more than just the hol­i­day spirit.

Weav­ing through the crowd at the mall, I picked up the item my wife sent me to pick up and headed for the park­ing lot. As I was go­ing, I re­al­ized why I re­ally did not like the mall, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Too many peo­ple are strug­gling with anx­i­ety and frus­tra­tion in try­ing to keep up with the Christ­mas Jone­ses.

I thought of what Je­sus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

The key in­gre­di­ent of “Merry” is rest and only Je­sus can give the rest that cre­ates a merry spirit.

Dr. James L. Sny­der is pas­tor of the Fam­ily of God Fel­low­ship, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with the Gra­cious Mistress of the Par­son­age. Tele­phone 1-866-552-2543, email jamess­ny­ Web­site is www. jamess­ny­der­min­

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