“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:23 NIV
I love Christmas.
But the relationship has always been a little complicated.
As a kid, I loved presents but hated the winter.
As a young adult, I loved parties but hated worrying whether I had the right gifts or had neglected someone. I was excited about making people happy and worried about hurting their feelings.
As an adult, I loved seeing family but hated having to travel to four different states to catch everyone’s celebration.
Can’t we all just meet in the middle?
If you spend any time around Christians, you will hear a lot about
Jesus being the reason for the season.
And if you keep listening, you’ll hear a lot of other reasons.
Christmas can be a joyful time. And it can also be the most pressured time of the year.
We may feel pressured to put on the best parties.
We may feel pressured to put on the best face.
We may feel pressure to start shopping on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, with money we don’t actually have, to bless our families and support the economy.
Christmas can be a time we demand people join the fun.
It’s a tough time to feel sad or stressed.
It’s a tough time to be alone, and/or missing people we’ve lost
It’s a tough time to not have the money we may feel that love demands.
There can be enforced happiness to this time.
We expect people to conform to the calendar and adopt “the Christmas spirit.”
But when we look at what happened at Christmas, we see the opposite.
We see God the Father expressing his love for the world by sending God the Son to be Emanuel, God with us.
He met us in the middle.
We see Jesus come to both the exalted, and the despised, to kings, and shepherds.
He met us in the middle.
We see Mary, astonished at an angelic visitation, and perplexed by the news of her virgin birth, nonetheless accepting God’s assignment by faith. And we see Joseph responding to a suspicious and potentially scandalous situation, his fiancée becoming pregnant without him, by first planning to quietly divorce her, and then receiving Angelic wisdom, and choosing to faithfully father this child.
They both met God in the middle.
Our religious impulses tend to lean heavily toward our expectations: The Way Things Should Be.
If Jesus is indeed the reason for the season, however, we need to consider the full range of effects of his arrival.
He brings help to the helpless.
He brings hope to the hopeless.
He brings worth to the rejected, comfort to the dejected, and belonging to the ejected.
And that means that helpless, hopeless, rejected, dejected, and ejected people shouldn’t be criticized as violators of the Christmas spirit.
They should be embraced as the reason for it.
And if that’s you, today, you need to know that God’s love doesn’t grow cold when we do, that the gifts of his word and presence don’t leave us because we’re insufficiently cheerful.
The Christmas Story should remind us that:
God sees us, even when we think he doesn’t
God has plans for us, even when we feel insignificant.
God’s plans for us are not just for our benefit. They bring significance to others.
You may think you’re a mess, but He thinks you’re amazing.
So wherever you are, and however you feel this December, know that God is there with you.
And that’s the reason for the season.
By Mischa Field