I have a sermon about Grinches that will steal our Christmas. I haven’t shared it in a couple of years but I’ve certainly been reminded recently of the Grinch of expectations.
Many of us have bought into Hollywood’s version of the “perfect” Christmas when the unexpected gift suddenly appears under the tree, the snow falls at just the right time, and some old hurt is wonderfully healed.
The fact is that not only is does this time of year have its fair share of unwelcome things but the expectations of the season serve as a magnifying glass on them, making them feel even bigger than they would normally.
Since this is, indeed, a “Season” we attach things more easily to it. If a loved one passed away unexpectedly in the summer we will associate it with that time of the year in a more vague way than if they passed away the “week of Christmas.”
In recent days I’ve been reminded of how people I care about are going through unwelcome things this year. There are surgeries, job loss, health worries, financial stress, and other things that take the luster off of Christmas for these good people.
The cure for this is a realization that we are real people and not actors on a Hollywood film stage. Magical things are not likely to happen and for us, life goes on, with both good and bad things coming our way.
The core of Christmas isn’t magic. Rather, it’s Christ. God loves me and sent his Son into the world to be my Savior. The glory of Christmas isn’t a lack of problems so much as it is the knowledge that God has come to be with me in all of life, including the unwelcome aspects.
I may not get the surprise gift of a fancy new car in the driveway on Christmas morning, and, in fact, I may deal with some bad news instead. Still, “Emmanuel” – “God with us” is true. That’s what makes life worth living not only at Christmas, but all the year through.