Right now, people (women especially) all over America are asking, Who thought up this blasted holiday, anyway – this holiday with excessive expectations, endless encouragement to buy stuff, the unforgiving deadline, the overconsumption? Who is responsible for this?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know who didn't think up this holiday – Jesus.
Jesus did not think up the holiday that forces us to do it all, to buy the best, to eat the most. But the holiday that celebrates hope and anticipation that someday humankind will live in true peace – that’s the holiday the baby Jesus brought.
Jesus did not tell us to run ourselves ragged looking for the perfect gift for N number of recipients, at price < $X all in time for the looming deadline. But the holiday that brings about sincere generosity and joyful giving, that’s the holiday that Jesus sponsors.
The holiday that forces cheer, despite the fact that life’s difficulties continue – that one is not Jesus’ idea. But the holiday that recognizes both human suffering and joy, and says that God is with us through it all – yup, that one is Jesus’ idea.
The holiday that encourages us to abandon restraint, causing us to equate companionship with overeating, overdrinking overspending – not from Jesus’ playbook. But the holiday which celebrates true fellowship and loving relationships – that one is from Jesus.
I find it impossible to untangle the one holiday from the other, any more. Even saying that we must find the true meaning of Christmas adds a requirement, shames us, and ramps up our anxiety.
My hope is that we can at least see glimpses of the celebration Jesus will bring, that our holiday next week will give us a peek at true peace, generosity, God’s presence, and love.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth let there be peace and goodwill among people. - Luke 2:14
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Corinthians 9:7
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). - Matthew 1:23
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. - John 13:34