As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m a bit of an over-thinker, which can be quite useful for blogging, but it also means that I sometimes miss the wood for the trees!
As Christmas approaches each year I usually get a kind of weird anxiety or ‘Christmas angst’, which looks something like this:
I worry about whether I am being too materialistic?
And whether I am taking enough time in the busyness for God, and making space to meditate on the true meaning of Christmas? (I can’t seem to stick to an advent reading plan!)
I worry about whether I am grateful enough for Jesus coming to earth, and if I am really worth his love and sacrifice?
And whether my worship is as heartfelt as it could be (I tend to go into automatic mode when I’m singing carols). . .and so on.
I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way?
Missing the Point
Can you see what I’m doing here? I might have good intentions, but I’ve actually made Christmas all about me! And instead of relishing the good news of the Christmas story and letting the truth of it soak in and bless me, I’ve let it become all about what I am doing (or failing to do), what I am thinking and feeling, and whether I measure up! There is a place for reflection of course, yet I’m amazed at how I can distort this until my anxieties squeeze out all the joy.
Fortunately for me, a talk that I heard on Sunday reminded me that we can see what Christmas is about in the names given to the Saviour whom we celebrate:
Emmanuel: God is with Us
Jesus: God Saves
In these two names I’m reminded that God made the first move (in fact he makes every move of significance!)
Jesus Christ came to earth as a man, to rescue us from our sin.
God proclaims his love, care, and forgiveness for all to see by sending a rescuer to all who will receive him:
. . .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 SAVIOUR 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 FAVOUR rests.” Luke 2:10-14
So Christmas is a time where I get to revel in this undeserved rescue, instead of trying to convince myself (and God) that I’m somehow worthy of it. It’s not an opportunity for me to measure how spiritual I am. If I focus on my failings or on arbitrary measures of godliness, I miss the point entirely!
Instead this Christmas, I’m going to focus my attention on God’s radical generosity in sending Jesus, and the news that I don’t need to strive to save myself, I have a saviour! I can rest in the reality of his rescue from sin, which began in a manger in Bethlehem.
All that is left to do is to accept it, enjoy it, and praise him for it.
Wishing you a joyful and angst-free Christmas!