“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
When I was a child, the Christmas season always filled my heart with an indescribable joy and wonderment. I would often be unable to sleep because I was so excited about the arrival of the holidays. I suspect the same was true in your own life. Christmas truly was “the most wonderful time of the year.”
But I’m not feeling that way this year. Maybe it’s because it’s 78 degrees outside in Mississippi as I’m typing these words. Maybe it’s because the stores started playing Christmas carols the day after Halloween this year and I’m a little queasy. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and I’ve developed different ways of looking at the universe. At any rate, I’m not really feeling it, and I’m OK with that. I’m perfectly happy and content.
Now, please don’t think I’m a Scrooge. I’m really looking forward to the holidays. And please don’t think I’m clinically depressed. Really, I have a heartfelt peace and joy. All I’m saying is that this year, I just don’t feel the way I felt when I was younger.
(I’m beginning to wonder if a large part of our childhood joys of Christmas were based on the quest for consumer goods. When I was a child, there was always ONE special present I wanted to find under the tree. The waiting and hoping and anticipation were agonizing. But this year, there’s not anything in particular I need or want. If there were, I probably would have already gone to the store and bought it!)
At any rate, I think I’m on track to have a wonderful Christmas this year. That is, in large part, because I’ve removed all the pressure from myself about any obligation to “feel a certain way.” Back in ancient history, the celebration of “Christmas” started off as the celebration of “Christ-Mass.” The believers met together in December to remember the birth of Jesus (hence, “Christ”), and to partake of Holy Communion (the “Mass”).
So, when I meet around the Lord’s Table each Sunday this month, that alone will be enough for my Merry Christmas. And every other good thing the Lord sends my way during this season (and I’m sure there will be many)–well, I’m just counting those things as “gravy.” I think I’ve set myself up for a perfect holiday season.
So why not join me and take the pressure off yourself during this blessed time of year? Stop striving to get yourself into the holiday spirit. Instead, strive to do the things that Jesus would have you do. I have a hunch that if we seek the Saviour instead of the sentiment, the true spirit of the season will come our way.
(Or maybe it’s already here….)
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where it’s been Summer all week, and Winter this weekend.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22) and his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).