How does the season of Christmas make you feel? Are there things that stir up a smile or a laugh? Perhaps it brings up feelings of loneliness, or even apathy. Christmas is different every year. We buy new homes, we get new jobs, and families grow and shrink. But, Christmas is also the same every year. We dress warmly, buy gifts for others, and to listen to Christmas carols. These can be times of stress but also times of fun. How do you feel about the dinners, the concerts, and the highly anticipated Christmas Eve meatloaf with red and green peppers mixed inside it?
We all have our ups and downs throughout the year but everyone expects this time to be particularly “happy.” Especially in advertising and shopping all the ads say: “Forget being sad, forget the struggles of life and buy things to make you happy. Buy things for others to make them happy. We should all be happy!” Americans enjoy this message, a lot; especially when we have a God-given right to the “pursuit of happiness!”
Unfortunately, my laundry detergent doesn’t conjure up mountain springs, and my shampoo doesn’t make me want to sing and laugh. Our friends’ Facebook pages show so many smiling adventures and activities that we can sometimes become dismayed and think, “Why am I not as happy as everyone else? What am I missing?”
Two thousand years ago, there was a young middle-eastern girl who got pregnant before she was married. Her fiancé almost left her until an angel intervened. When the baby was finally born, the family had to flee a deranged king who was trying to kill them. They fled across the border to another country, lived there for a time and returned only to move again.
Where is the happy in this story?
Even though their lives were filled with hardship, struggles and threat of death, the promise that they both received was not for happiness. It was a hope for salvation that stirred deep in their hearts. Every day God sustained them. Their little family had struggles the same way our families do. But what makes their ordinary lives remarkable is that no matter how unbearable Aunt Elizabeth is, no matter how bad the food, no matter how stressed everyone is, it was never so bad they lose sight of God’s salvation.
Their boy grew up and lived out that salvation every day. He calls us, young and old, rich and poor to have that same hope and joy in our hearts that promises life to all who call upon his name. Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel!