Summary: Stress is a Christmas killer. Is Christmas the problem?
December 15, 2002
34Mary said to the angel, ¡§How can this be¡K
Luke 1.34a (NASB)
Rick and Judy Armstrong had a hectic holiday schedule; [they have] careers, teenagers, shopping, and all the required doings of the season. Realizing that she would be short of time, Judy had the stationer print their signature on their Christmas cards, instead of signing each one.
Soon they started getting cards from friends signed
ƒ¶ The Modest Morrisons,
ƒ¶ The Clever Clarks, and
ƒ¶ The Successful Smiths.
Then she discovered the stationer¡¦s subtle mistake. She had mailed out a hundred cards neatly imprinted with Happy Holidays from the Rich Armstrongs. (1)
The Christmas season is well ¡§upon us¡¨. We are all getting Christmas cards, and Hallmark is smiling along with Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and VISA. We carry a lot of Hallmark moments around in our heads, don¡¦t we?
There are the snapshots of snowy Christmas days.
There are the serene scenes of embraces and tender quiet moments with family.
Hallmark reprints a thousand different ways to say it for lovers.
The problem with Hallmark moments, however, is that they end! And that with which you are left is real life!
One preacher put it this way:
Do you know what the best part of Christmas is?
Being together with members of your family.
Do you know that the worst part is?
Being together with members of your family. (2)
This whole stress mania is out of hand. Norman Vincent Peale once said that people are so stressed out today they can¡¦t even fall asleep in church. (3)
Every year I struggle with that¡Kno, not falling asleep in church, but sensing that the stress of holiday survival is someday going to do me in!
And, so I sense that you also have that ¡V too much going on and too little time. Hurrying, busy, stressed!
Every year Elizabeth and I vow we are not going to get caught up again; every year I wind up eating my words along with too much turkey and Christmas junk food. This year added to the repertoire ¡V
the ice storm of the century,
Bethlehem 2002 schedule juggling,
Mom & Dad¡¦s move at the beginning of the month,
and four hundred thousand other stress-builders [including the addition of another grand-dog over at the Wynne household, a Rotweiler ¡§puppy¡¨ named Cole, weighing-in at 85 pounds. Next week we get to hound-sit for a week. If you need me, call me at the North Pole. That¡¦s where Cole takes his walks.]
I mentioned to Sandy that I was preaching on stress this Sunday. She said, Wait a minute, I¡¦ll get my video camera and follow you around for a while. We can just show it on Sunday.
[World¡¦s full of comediennes, eh?]
I replied, Shows that bad, eh? She just smiled!
With all the stress in our current day society, it¡¦s a wonder the airports can operate. While checking on some bags at the airport, a man became very indignant with the employee who was handling his luggage. For several minutes he belittled the young man and criticized his every move. Surprisingly, the curbside porter didn’t seem troubled by this man’s verbal abuse.
After the angry man entered the airport, another man approached the luggage handler and asked, How do you put up with such injustice? The young man said, Oh, it’s no big deal. That guy’s going to New York, but his bags are headed for Brazil. (4)
The question I want to say out loud, right here in the church, of all places, begs to be addressed:
IS CHRISTMAS THE PROBLEM?
I know people, even committed, Bible-believing Christians who say they hate Christmas. HATE! Now, I know they don¡¦t mean the coming of Christ; I know they are talking about the ¡§media Christmas-glitz¡¨, meaningless hurry and debt-creating overspending in which we all get trapped. However, the fact that the question has to be asked at all raises the possibility that Christmas is the problem ¡V not the real Christmas of God¡¦s incredible priceless gift of a Savior, but the way we go about celebrating Christmas.
Popular best-selling author John Grisham has even written a book entitled ¡§Skipping Christmas¡¨(5) about a husband and wife who decide that they won¡¦t participate this year. They bought $6,000 worth of gifts last year, and this year with the daughter off to college they¡¦re not going to do it again; not even a tree to decorate! So they spend $3,000 on a cruise instead. Stress is a motivator!
This morning I want to offer this as a thesis for us to chew on for the next days of Advent:
Yes, Virginia, Christmas IS
the Problem of our Stress;
Yes, Virginia, Christmas is
ALSO the Solution for our Stress!
How can something be the problem and the solution? That¡¦s like my doctor saying, Brownworth, you¡¦re 40 pounds overweight¡Kbetter stock-up on Snickers!