In my head I have this idealistic concept of what Christmas should look feel like.
I picture myself standing next to George Bailey as the whole town comes to rally around him. I picture all of us gathered around the Christmas tree all bright and sparkly, glittering and shiny, and we’re singing ‘Auld Lang Syne‘. We are all breathing in the regalia, drinking up our tasty glasses of egg nog and we’re all wearing those cheesy sweaters you only see at Christmas time. It’s a fantasy. It’s a dream. It’s certainly not reality. (just let me dream for a moment please)
Sometimes it’s Christmas worship…for all the wrong reasons.
There’s another side of me though.
It’s the side that comes out more often than not.
It’s a side that I seldom acknowledge.
With everything that we do this time of year…raising much needed funds, running ourselves sick so that by Christmas day, almost every year, we are literally sick…counting toys, sorting toys, dreaming about toys and the sounds of ringing bells (it really is a reoccurring nightmare)…that side of me wishes I never experience another Christmas again. This side of me HATES Christmas.
I don’t say that lightly.
Sometimes I wish someone else would just take over and let me go put on my cheesy sweater so that I can stand by George Bailey again. Sometimes I honestly dread getting to this time of year. Now, I know what we do and why we do these things matters, it’s just that I can’t help but feel overworked, under-appreciated, and Christmas has become something that I hate instead of love. Did I do something wrong? Did I cancel Christmas because of my calloused heart? Am I the cause of this emotion? Sometimes that side of me rises up, rages, and won’t go back into its cage. It snarls at the “job”. It wails at the hours. It flails like a two year old in the middle of a grocery store when they don’t get what they want. The Grinch scream at the top of its lungs with veins popping out of its neck, the words are garbled yet still recognizable; “I HATE CHRISTMAAAAAS!”
Then I get to Sunday morning.
Then I get to refocus my heart.
Then the raging animal gets locked up again in its dented cage.
Then I get to retrain these emotions.
Then I swallow them down.
Then I push back at these raw, sour feelings.
Then I get to realign my intentions and my attitude.
Then I realize that once again I’ve lost my way.
Where is this holiness, this sanctified spirit within me?
Did I misplace it?
Did I leave in the pew next to the pew bible and discarded bulletin?
Is it sitting next to the advent candles ironically located above the crimson holiness table with the words of irony “Holiness unto the Lord”? Is it left in the chapel on Sunday?
Yes, we have made Christmas something to despise…sometimes.
Yes, we have worked ourselves to death…sometimes.
Yes, we make an impact on people’s lives…but are we really?
Yes, this system works…but is this the best we can do with the limited resources that we have?
All of these questions…
Not very many answers.
I really don’t hate Christmas.
I’m not green and please don’t call me the Grinch.
The two year old was left on the floor to finish that childish tantrum alone and embarrassed.
In my dream of the perfect Christmas I know that me and George Bailey are hanging out…but It’s just a dream.
I can’t worship this false ideal of what Christmas should look like either. The real world come crashing in.
For now I’ll forget about buying that cheesy Christmas sweater and lounging in a comfy couch next to that fantastically decorated Christmas tree sipping egg nog while singing Old Lang Syne.
But is there a middle ground here?
I don’t want the proverbial cake and eat it too.
I’m not complaining.
I am a servant and an Officer.
Though I think we might get our priorities backwards at times.
Servants of what exactly? Whose servants are we?
To help refocus and realign us today amidst the hustle and bustle of our crazy, busy day:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God Be The Glory.