Summary: In the midst of chaos, our expectations often leave us disappointed. Thoughts on how to have a MERRY Christmas!

How to have a Merry Christmas?

1 John 1; 1 John 4; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

December 23, 2018

It still boggles my mind that we are 2 days away from Christmas! This year has been the longest possible shopping season and amazingly next year, will be the shortest.

I’m not sure which is better. Some of us need more time to get done what we need to get done! The shopping, the parties, the time off. Yet, for so many people, the Christmas season could be a week long or 2 months long and they will still wait for the last minute.

It seems that Christmas always catches us off guard, and can be so chaotic, can't it? This whole season can be such a disconnect between what we expect and what we end up experiencing. Sometimes we get so caught up in all of the extras, that we don’t really enjoy Christmas.

We all want to enjoy this time of year. We want to enjoy family, friends, and each other. We all want to have moments of pleasure and peace that remind us that this is a time like no other.

Yet, in order to experience this, we end up gritting our teeth and trying to force a sentimental Christmas. Maybe you’ll watch a lifetime movie or listen to some music, go to a special worship, hum along while shopping. Call an old friend, visit someone, make an extra dessert to pass on.

Sometimes, we try to recreate what worked in the past. But in spite of our efforts, we tend to get caught up in the side shows of Christmas, instead of Christmas and what this magical, mystical and mysterious day is about.

We get ourselves worked up about that one family member or friend who will be at dinner. We get caught up in what someone wore, or the extra comments or looks. Then we get caught up in the gift exchange. Who got what, how many did they get, and we estimate the cost of their gifts vs. the cost of our gifts.

We lost sight of what this day is all about. All the build up. It’s like the build up for a great vacation or for the super bowl or for the new movie . . . and when it happens, it’s really a let down. We get caught up with the stuff of Christmas instead of Christmas itself.

I read about a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of the crowds, tired of the lines, tired of walking. Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. So the people grudgingly squeezed together to give her a small space for her.

As the doors closed, she blurted out, "Whoever’s responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!" A few others grunted in agreement. Then, from the back of the elevator, a quiet voice said ~ "Don't worry. They already crucified Him."

So, with 2 days left . . . only 2 more days to get into the Christmas spirit. How can we put MERRY back into Merry Christmas? How can we actually enjoy Christmas when we're not there. For whatever reason, life isn’t going as expected, our reality isn’t filled with sugar plum fairies. And we’re dreading the next couple of days.

Or maybe there’s nothing wrong. Life is good! But you’re busy and you’re really not getting the Christmas spirit. It’s just another day of busy-ness and running around and cooking and a day off of work, then back to the grindstone.

I want you to know I really struggled with what comes next. I don’t usually admit that. I was enjoying coffee, all was good, but I didn’t really know what to say next. But I really did!

You see, as a pastor, my struggle came in the fact that I have to preach today and tomorrow. I have to kind of say the same thing but in different ways. I’m just being honest. I’m not complaining. I love my calling! But that’s my reality.

You see, I’m guilty too! Most of us are! Maybe there’s a few who aren’t. I really haven’t taken the time to just sit and read the Christmas story. We know it, so we don’t need to read it, but that’s poor thinking. We need to reread it again and again and again. We need to know it so well, that we see the newness in the story all of the time. That’s the curse and the beauty of knowing the story so well.

Tomorrow night we will read the Christmas story. This morning, I want to read some passages from 1 John - -

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