Wonder & Joy For All Seasons

Can I confess that
when the calendar rolls over
to December 26th,
a sweet relief falls on me?

There is no more pressure to
send one more card or
shop for one more present or
bake one more cookie or
attend one more holiday gathering.

It is finished.
I’m grateful and I’m relieved.

Christmas comes with its
own set of stressors.

For some,
this Christmas has been a season of dread.
The death of a loved one has left
empty spaces at tables and in hearts so vacuous
that facing the cheerfulness of the holiday
was nearly impossible.

Christmas 2016 is past.
December 26th comes
with a deep sigh of relief.

For others, Christmas evoked
unexpected emotions.

Empty nesters slept in on Christmas Day,
missing the pre-dawn promptings from
children eager to open presents under the tree.

Snowbirds celebrating Christmas in the south
are unexpectedly sad,
feeling the absence of family members,
silently missing the familiar cold and snow.

College students back home for the holiday
are more excited about reconnecting with friends and
time away from studies than celebrating Christmas.
The childlike wonder and surprise is missing.

December 26 relieved the angst
of unanticipated emotions.

I have friends whose frenzy never stops.
As soon as the last present is opened,
they are mentally planning which decorations
go in which storage totes and
where they will be kept till next year.
They are making lists for New Year’s Eve parties and
perusing Pinterest for Valentine’s Day ideas.

December 26th is the reminder that
Christmas is finished
and it’s time to
get on to the next thing.

I don’t know what your Christmas holiday was like,
but it’s easy to make December 25th
about us and not about Jesus.

This year,
in spite of changes
and losses
and angst
and even the pressures about what next year holds,
I’m going to take some time to see if
I can find a bit of lost wonder and joy.

I’m guilty of losing sight of Jesus
in the crush and sorrows of Christmas.

Following the example of the shepherds,
I’m going to find Jesus and be with him.

When the shepherds were told of Jesus’ birth,
there was a good deal of excitement.

Anticipation of our Messiah generated
spontaneous travel plans,
making arrangements for the sheep,
getting cleaned up and their hair done
(presumably)
deciding what outfit to wear
(perhaps)
baking and creating gifts to bring to the party
(maybe)?

Ok, that’s a stretch.
That’s what our Christmas’s are like.

What we do know is the shepherds
were filled with wonder and joy.

A wonder and joy that could not be contained.

The Bible says, “When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
(Luke 2:17-18)

Jesus is with you even if your loved ones aren’t.
Enjoying the Presence of God will fill you with wonder and joy, too.

Christmas is over, but Jesus remains.

This week,
I hope you’ll ponder and remember
Jesus is the reason for Christmas.

All the traditions and parties and gifts
are just accessories to remind us that
Jesus was born,
He came to save us.
To be with us … every day.

Take a minute today to sit in Jesus’ presence
and be filled with wonder and joy.