Can I be honest about something that is not a secret within my family? I’m an absolute Grinch about Christmas. Let me explain this as I understand this is a horrible admission to mutter for many.
I have always had a heart for service to others. When I led youth ministry, I had one goal every year: to provide multiple opportunities to promote humility, service to others, giving, self-sacrifice, grace, empathy, and compassion. This included volunteers and students serving at soup kitchens during the holidays, doing Adopt-A-Child boxes, feeding the homeless events, and any other volunteer opportunities that came about.
I have these own perspectives within myself and my family to serve. It’s therefore hard for me to see the Christmas commercials about buying that next thing, hearing the endless “I want this” or “why can’t I have that,” and truly what the commercialization of this important holiday. In all reality, I’m not against Christmas, but what society does to it and the greed that inevitably spills out to it.
In looking at this Christmas season, I think of those who struggle with trauma, suicidality, psychosis, substance misuse, family conflict, and social isolation and want our focus to not be on things, but on people. I hope that the Church focuses not on programming or solely on numbers coming to church, but on the stories of those who show up, maybe for the only time that year.
The True Meaning Of Christmas
But the truth of Christmas with the birth of the Savior of the world in a humble manger is far from what we have done to the holiday season traditions. The act of Jesus giving up the perfection of heaven to put Himself in a human body that will suffer headaches, itchiness, anxiety and depressive symptoms, pains from hard labor, conflicts with family and friends, and so many other broken worldly things. And He did so with the intent of sacrifice, as John 1:29 we see John announce by a prophecy of Jesus:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!John 1:29 (NIV)
So, just as we see the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes bigger at the end of the movie because he sees that community and loving others are the intent of the holiday season, I find myself needing to escape the commercialized spectacle and wanting to lean into the true meaning of Christmas.
As we gather in celebration of this sacred season, we pause to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. May we remember that amidst the festive decorations, Walmart specials, and never-ending playing of A Christmas Story lies the profound story of God’s love for humanity. May we remember the manger story, the redemption that Jesus’ birth marks, and His love for every person who comes to Him for grace and salvation.
May the warmth of your love fill our hearts and homes during this Christmas season. Guide us to embrace the spirit of generosity, compassion, and goodwill toward all, just as you have shown us through the life of Jesus.
In the midst of the festivities, may we not lose sight of the miraculous story that unfolded in Bethlehem—the story of hope, joy, and the promise of eternal life. Help us to share this message of love and hope with others, extending the joy of Christmas to those in need.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, may our lives be a reflection of the true meaning of Christmas—love, peace, and the everlasting joy found in your presence.