Have you ever listened to the words of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!? The first verse sums up Christmas in four words – God and sinners reconciled.
The rest of the song is an admonition to praise the one who saved us and reconciled us to Himself through the gift given in Jesus.
I struggle – I will be the first to admit it. I struggle a LOT with joy, and peace (go down the list). I struggle with holding on to the “true meaning” of Christmas in this ever-changing world. My family has shifted dramatically in the last seven years and with it my enjoyment of Christmas seems to have shifted. The older I get, and the more single (if there is such a thing) I get, the harder it is to accept Christmas for what it is.
There is all kinds of talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas. But quite simply, Christmas is what it is. Stripped bare of meanings, stripped bare of celebrations, stripped bare of the trappings and trimmings, Christmas isn’t about family. It isn’t about giving, it isn’t about lights, or world peace, or anything else. Christmas simply is God and sinners reconciled.
And when I can get back to that basic truth, I think I will come through Christmas a much happier person. Because the gifts – both those given and those received – are just a way to celebrate being reconciled with God. The time with family – it is just one way to celebrate being reconciled with God. None of it should matter. None of it should get to me. Christmas itself won’t change whether I ever get married or stay single, I have children or do not, live with my parents or live alone because Christmas at it’s very core cannot change. Oh, the way I celebrate it can, and if I let myself believe that Christmas is the celebration, then yes, it can become a burden and a sad time. But in reality, Christmas does not change.
God reconciled sinners to himself.
Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies! With angelic hosts proclaim…Christ is born in Bethlehem.