Monday, December 5, 2016

The True Meaning of Christmas

"I hate the holidays!"

Every year I muttered this under my breath a hundred times. That period from Thanksgiving week through New Year's Day used to be filled with stress. Cooking, baking, card sending, present buying, wrapping, decorating, parties, family visits... It felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to do all the things that just HAD to be done in order for everyone in the family to have a perfect Christmas.

Oh, I went to church, too. In fact, choir practice, pageant practice for the kids, and the special holiday events at the church just added to my busy schedule. I couldn't even enjoy Christmas Eve worship because I was too busy helping, running the multimedia for both services. Instead of a candle, I had the light of a computer monitor for singing "Silent Night" -- and don't forget to change the verses!

And then one late November day a few years ago, I had a meltdown. "I'm through!" I shrieked. "I'm not doing this anymore."

That year I didn't get out my three boxes of Santa figures and two boxes of angels and one box of snowmen and a partridge in a pear tree. I didn't fight the crowds at the mall. I sat in my pajamas and ordered a few gifts from the Internet, and then donated the rest of my gift money to charities in honor of my family.

When I finished my work each day, I sat and read the real Christmas story. Out of an actual Bible. The story of a young girl visited by an angel, and a man who took her for his wife in spite of the child she carried. The story of the birth of a baby. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. ... What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. ... And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory....

During December of that meltdown year I eventually got my Christmas tree up, and my cards sent. But ever since then my Christmas tree is covered with angels, the choirs of angels that sang and proclaimed to the shepherds, "Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people."

Now I know the joy of Christmas through my family and my church family, Sunday morning praise and prayer, and Christmas Eve candlelight. I didn't find the true meaning of Christmas. It found me. All I had to do was open my heart and let it in.

Are you looking for more than the bastion of commercialism this year? Why not join me at St. Paul's on Sunday morning at 9:30? Or on Christmas Eve at 5 or 7 p.m.? Or on Christmas morning at 11?

Open your heart and let the true meaning of Christmas find you.

Denise H.

Bible verses quoted above in italics are from the Common English Bible (CEB), John 1:1, 1:3-5, 1:14-15; and Luke 2:10.

Click here to go to St. Paul's website.

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