Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute...
You may be familiar with this particular Christmas song... especially if you are a fan of Glee. This upbeat little tune captures the excitement of this season. Many find themselves anxious to start breaking out the decorations. In fact, it seems to come earlier every year! However, while there is a common frenzy to start the holiday celebrations with trees and tinsel, something often gets lost in the mix.
This particular song goes on to include these lyrics:
For I've grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now.
Many of us can probably identify with this particular verse. We may be feeling the winter blues, or it may be something deeper. I have shared some of my current struggles recently: my husband recently lost his job, we have had a string of unfortunate events from car accidents to family problems, I continue to struggle with depression... the world has given me plenty of reasons to feel a little "leaner, colder, sadder, older." However, while I do love the sparkle of the lights and the glitter of the ornaments, those aren't the things that are going to really lift my spirit... at least not for any substantial amount of time!
This Sunday, we focused on a passage from the book of Isaiah. The full passage was Isaiah 40:1-11, and I encourage you to take some time to really read and absorb these verses! However, I will focus on just a few. First of all, this passage begins with an amazing gift to us:
Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
Like the person in the jolly Christmas song, we are all looking for something to lift our spirits. We have been dragged down by the weight of sin in many ways. We look all around for ways to fill our lives with joy, when really all we need to do is look right here. Here we have words of peace. Of comfort.
I always like to listen carefully to the children's message when we have one, because let's face it... any good children's message gets right to the point. This week's illustration for the children's message was that of Pastor's favorite blanket. He talked about how he likes to snuggle up with his favorite blanket for comfort. I immediately thought of bubs snuggling with his favorite green lovey. I often sit and stare at his little angel face while he sleeps, thinking how peaceful he looks. As I was thinking of this, it struck me that I have been given the same peace and comfort. Only I have "grown a little older" and have a harder time accepting it.
It is all right there for us to read in God's word, though! Not only in this passage, but throughout the scriptures we have messages of peace and comfort. As I was thinking about all of this, I was also struck by the later verses in this passage:
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
I love how these verses exhibit both the power and might of the Lord, but also remind us that he is our shepherd. He is a great and victorious ruler, and yet he "gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart." Talk about comfort. Verse 11 paints such a vivid picture of tenderness and love. We have a God who loves us enough not only to forgive us, but also carry us.
So, while there is definitely plenty of reason to celebrate this time of year, it is important to remember that all of that tinsel and holly is not here to lift our spirits. Instead, it should be a way to express the joy that we already possess! The decorations and traditions certainly have a place, but they should be our outward expression of the gift of our Savior. Not an attempt to fill the void that only He can fill.
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