The most miserable time of the year

How do you feel about Christmas? Do you love it? Does it do your head in? Do you walk into a shopping centre and hear the Pogues Fairytale of New York again and smile or grimace? How do you speak about or preach about Christmas?

For some Christians and preachers you’d think Christmas was the most miserable time of the year. They can’t help but see evil and overindulgence everywhere and it seems to really annoy them. And so we get angry outburst, after angry post, after angry sermon about commercialisation, about how the Christ has been removed from X-Mas, and how Santa is a not very subtle anagram for someone else. We have missed the point of Christmas they tell us.

I want to say yes and no. Yes our world so often loses Jesus in the suffocating press of the tinsel and gifts and experiences and meals. But what if we had too? What if instead of haranguing society and preaching a gospel that seems to be dead against joy we showed them what they were missing? Every Christmas party, every overindulgence, every gift, every exorbitant preparation is a sign of a desperate search for joy. It is a sign of longing for significance and a desire to bring joy to others or to find joy for themselves where they can because life is in short supply of it.

The angels herald Jesus birth to the shepherds as “good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Just stop and read that again. It is good news of mega joy for all people. They didn’t preface it with don’t get too excited but… The angels sent them to find true lasting mega-joy incarnate in the manger. Our joy giving God – who showers us with every possible gift that could bring us joy – sends his Son as the way to a greater joy, the greater joy we were made for. How tragic if we hide that under the rubble of our curmudgeonly grumpiness over what Christmas has become.

People are desperately searching for joy, and if I didn’t have Christ, I think I would be too! Anything to lift the unrelenting gloom and seeming meaninglessness. But believer stop for a minute and remember we have Christ, we understand the joy that is to be found in him. If that joy has waned, stop and take time to trace that word through Isaiah, start with Chapter 9, 25, 51, 61, and then read Zephaniah 3. And see the joy that the angels are so excitedly ecstatic about. The Saviour of the world has come and he has come not to rail against our search for joy in the wrong thing but to help us find joy in him and so trigger joy and rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Read Luke and see that joy again and again – joy in salvation not circumstance, but a joy that when found liberates us to find joy in every good gift our Father gives us – yes even Christmas – and look back along to sunbeam to a smiling Father’s face.

In a world that seems so joyless, that so often settles for something that masquerades as joy-lite, preach real joy this Christmas. Preach of the one who connects sins forgiven, relationship with God and real eternal lasting joy all in one. And show the world what they are really missing this Christmas.

3 thoughts on “The most miserable time of the year

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