Summary: There is perhaps no other time of the year when we experience the diversity of emotions that we have at Christmas.
DEFEATING THE HOLIDAY BLUES
“When Christmas Showed Up!”
There is perhaps no other time of the year when we experience the diversity of emotions that we have at Christmas. In just 10 short days we will once again celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 10 days. This time of year brings a lot of happiness-it’s a time to enjoy family; a time to give a meaningful gift to someone we love, it’s a time when we can’t help but think of children, the smiles on their faces, the hope in their hearts and the excitement it brings to so many people. And the money that is spent.
Wall Street, Amazon, stores across the country, even the President will measure the progress of our country based on the amount of money we spend at this time of year. This was just released:
Fortune magazine reported that this year consumers spent a record 69 billion dollars between Thursday and Sunday----during the long Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. While I was napping from too much turkey and too many pieces of pie, some of you were spending a lot of money. But you and I both know that is not what Christmas is all about.
For many, while this time of year is meant to be a time of giving, a time of hope and joy; for many it is also a time of grief. Christmas can be:
• A time when we remember our past and perhaps Christmas was not all we hoped it would be as children.
• A time when some of us look at what others have and if we’re honest we wish we had it too.
• A time when we reflect on the past year and perhaps it just wasn’t all that we wanted it to be.
• My wife and I did that last week and I think the word we came up with to describe this past year the best was the word change. Many changes in our lives. And change can be very hard.
• And then for all too many of us there is grief. The Holiday blues set it. And we are reminded that it seems that something or really someone is missing at this time of year.
The story we just read from scripture this morning is one of the most amazing stories in all of the NT. And it teaches us some important truths about grief and how we can handle grief at this time of year. Because we are constantly hearing the words, Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas!, and Happy New Year! …. Everywhere we turn someone is reminding us that we should be happy; yet many of us are experiencing a kind of grief so deep that they are having trouble experiencing the joy this time of year should bring. While everyone is telling us to be merry and happy; for those who have lost someone they have loved deeply; many are just trying to survive.
So this man named Lazarus was sick. Very sick. He was from the town of Bethany and he had two sisters, Mary and Martha. They were close friends to Jesus and on occasion when Jesus would travel through Bethany he would stay with them. You will notice inverse 3 that when the sisters sent word to Jesus their words were, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” In v. 5 it says, now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Interesting that when John writes this he uses two different words in the Greek to describe this love---the first one in v. 3 being phileo, which means to love as a friend; Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love and then he uses agape in v. 5 which is unconditional love which describes the kind of love Jesus has for us --- unconditional, full of grace, can’t earn it kind of love. The only requirement is that we accept it. Amazing.
Because that is what this passage is really about. The fact that at this time of year Christmas showed up! Jesus showed up in the flesh for you and for me AND for Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Love showed up in the flesh. And love showed up with a promise. When Jesus came into this world an angel cam to Mary and said, “Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” You know what Mary’s response was? Luke tells us Mary was greatly troubled at His words. “Mary, you are highly favored.” Mary was greatly troubled when she heard this. The angel had to calm her and said, “Mary do not be afraid.”
When Jesus came to his disciples He also says some words that are very difficult for them to take in and understand---He says, “this sickness will not end in death. This is happening for the glory of God. Everything would change when Christmas showed up.