Summary: God wants to change our view of what a great Christmas is really about.
Life in the Fast Lane
Holiday Expectations: Don’t Take That Exit!
Woodlawn Baptist Church
November 21, 2004
Before we get started this morning I want to take a minute to thank all of you for praying for me as I preached at this week’s state meeting. We had a good meeting, some good fellowship, and I know that the Lord used your prayers to gird me up and speak His Word. I’ll be showing a short video tonight with highlights from the meeting before we begin the business meeting. I also want to thank Brother James for filling in for me in our Wednesday evening Bible study.
Back at the first of the month I took Kathy to a pastor’s dinner down at DFW airport, for what turned out to be a frustrating 5 o’clock drive. First I missed my exit to get on Loop 635, so I had to turn down by the Dallas Medical Plaza, where, because of the heavy traffic I decided to drive west through several neighborhoods until I finally turned north in Las Colinas. Once I got back to 635, I headed west until I got to I-35. I misread my directions and took an exit that put me in an Asian neighborhood that I’d never seen before. All the store signs and billboards were written in Chinese characters. I drove around a while and finally got back to I-35 and headed south so I could look for Loop 12. I headed off in the right direction, but again missed my exit, had to go further south, west again, back north, and finally on Loop 12. Just in case you wondered, we did make it to the dinner where I was able to recoup for the drive home.
Sometimes it seems to me that navigating our way through the holidays can be just as frustrating and sometimes as confusing. We misread the signs, misjudge the time we have, make mistakes as we try to keep up with the flow, and by the time Christmas rolls around, we’re so frustrated and put out that not only did we not enjoy the journey, but now we find it difficult to enjoy the destination. Do you ever feel that way?
Perhaps it seems a little early to you to talk about Christmas. After all, we still have Thanksgiving to go, but when Christmas decorations and ads started going up before Halloween, I knew it was a subject that we needed to address in our current series as we’re dealing with the pressures of life that society and culture impose on us. They have their reasons for hitting you up early, and so do I, and here’s why – we all have expectations about what we want out of Christmas. I don’t mean the expectations you have about what kind of present you want, but how you want your holidays to go. We all to some degree or another have expectations for our holidays, but what I want you to see today is that God wants to raise your level of holiday expectations from where they are now to where He would have them to be. As we talk about raising your expectations, I want to share with you some ways you can do that, and then I’m going to tell you why. First, what is our destination?
The Perfect Christmas
When you think about the holidays in general, specifically Christmas, what is it that you really want? Whether you can verbalize it or not, what almost everyone tries to do is create the perfect Christmas. We put out the decorations, the trees, bake the pies, cook all the family favorites, buy those perfect presents (the ones that make the recipient say, “Wow! That’s what I’ve always wanted!” and really mean it). The perfect Christmas goes farther than that though. While you do all those things, you’ve got to stay in your budget, entertain visiting family, juggle the kid’s schedules, and figure out how you’re going to make the rounds from this family to that family without offending anyone. You just want to make everyone happy!
If you’ll be honest with yourself, you know that when the holidays roll around, we all want to create what we believe will be a perfect Christmas. We want everything to go right, everyone to get along, and in the midst of it all, we want to enjoy the time ourselves. You know as well as I do that “Christmas is a very emotional time of the year when people experience a whole range of emotions…We tend to associate Christmas with feelings of hopefulness, happiness, contentment and love. But we also see feelings of loss, despair, worry, anxiety and disappointment.”
Christmas is a time when we remember the years gone by, when we enjoy the gathering together of our families, and when we remember the incarnation of Christ, but it’s not so easy for some people. As the number of divorces rise, so do the number of holiday conflicts. Who’s going to get the kids this Christmas? A mom or a dad manipulates the child with the number of or value of Christmas presents. A single mom does good to juggle a job and raise a kid all year long without the added pressure of having to buy presents and be off work. For others, recent deaths take a toll on our emotions as they cope with the loss of someone they want to share the holiday with. There are just so many things that factor in, how do we create the perfect Christmas?