Joy to the World!

What Christmas means to me.

So, the day has arrived. Christmas is here and all the commercial frenzy surrounding it has peaked and is now sliding back, with a quick weekend of returns and exchanges to be expected.  That frenzy of spending, of course, makes lots of business sorts happy, since this past month was when they all achieved profitability for the year. Many of them, anyway.  The others might not be around for the next Christmas spendfest.

I’m always conflicted this time of year. On the one hand, I’ve operated in the business world and it’s been in my best interest to tell the stories that sell people on a product or a business concept. I’m thankful, however, that over my 20-year career I haven’t had to use Christmas too much as a selling hook. Because, you see, I also believe that Christmas is the day when we celebrate the Savior of the world coming down to earth, God taking the form of man, His plan to redeem us from our sins becoming tangible — in the form of a baby — to us.  That baby, growing up to a sin-less man who gave himself up as a sacrifice so that all of us who believe in Him will have our sins removed.

Yesterday I attended the funeral for a friend from my church, Terry.  She died after struggling with cancer for more than two years. It was quite emotional, of course, as we gathered around Terry’s husband and four sons. We’re all sad that these young men and this wonderful husband must move on without their wonderful mother and wife. At the same time, however, we celebrated because Terry — a wonderful Christian woman who truly lived her faith — is in a much better place with that same Savior whose birth we now celebrate.

When you think of Christmas as the time God revealed his plan of redemption to us in the form of a Savior, new electronics and sweaters and power tools really seem a little pale by comparison. I’m not against the present-sharing, by the way.  I think it’s a wonderful way to express the joy that’s in your heart. I think it can be very symbolic of the greater gift we have received.  Even for non-Christians, it is a nice way to express love and care for others. The traditions of coming together and celebrating are fun and can be a wonderful time of sharing.

As the “finish line” approaches tonight, and the rush to Christmas is complete, I’m happy that THIS year I’ve had more contemplative time to reflect on what this season really means to me. I hope you are able to sit back and do the same, if not this year, maybe next. To help you, here’s a classic couple of Christmas minutes from Peanuts.  I’ve always respected the fact that Charles Schultz was able to bring Christmas back to its roots through a fun little cartoon that we all came to love.

To all of you, Merry Christmas, for He has come to earth for us all!  I hope you get what you want this year, but even moreso I hope you get what you need!