Beware of holiday burnout. A local radio station announced that December 15th was when adults started to grow tired of celebrating Christmas. According to the station, this year’s weariness came earlier than usual. I can speculate on a few reasons why. It could be because supply chain issues had people shopping too early, that stores have displayed Christmas decorations since August, or because we’ve entered a time warp and are reliving Christmas 2020 (at least here in New England.)
To be honest, this Christmas had been a struggle to keep up the pace and the peace. I don’t know whether it’s or because I kept remembering one more person I’d forgotten to shop for and scrambled only to wait in massive lines to buy a gift, or because my boys are teens and too old for Christmas magic, but this Christmas felt hard. I shouldn’t complain because for others, Christmas is a reminder of a heavy heart or the empty place setting at the table, and I have much to be grateful for.
It’s odd, but the book of Lamentations put everything in perspective for me. Jeremiah writes about the desolation of Israel, and as he had prophesied, the Babylonians had invaded, destroying the temple and walls of Jerusalem. The people who weren’t carried away as prisoners ran off to Egypt and were killed or starved to death in their Jerusalem homes. Only a small remnant survived. Things looked dark and bleak for the Jewish people, but God was setting the stage to offer forgiveness to a world that repeatedly refused to listen and kept returning to its wicked ways, like a dog to its vomit.
God was preparing a way, which meant sending His son to save us.
The peace that passes all understanding is knowing God is doing good no matter how things may appear or feel. We must remember that God is victorious even when it looks like defeat. Peace is the faith that God holds you in the palm of His hand and that He is for you. It’s submitting, knowing God is in control, and relaxing because He came to bring peace, and He’s coming again.
In his, Handbook of Christian Feasts, Francis X. Weiser explains how when we wish someone a Merry Christmas, we are actually wishing them a blessed, peaceful Christmas. He states, “The well-known carol ‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’ is an excellent example of the original meaning of ‘merry.’ The position of the comma clearly shows the true meaning (the word is not an adjective describing ‘gentlemen’) and therefore is not ‘God rest you, joyful gentlemen,’ but ‘God rest you peacefully, gentlemen.’” (Weiser, Francis X., Handbook of Christian Feasts, Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1952, Pg 69.) The turning of this phrase shows God’s peace is what brings us happiness.
As we sprint towards the Christmas finish line, ready or not, let’s remind ourselves of the win. It’s not about presents under the tree or cards in the mailbox. It’s a baby born in a manger. Jesus was given to us, and the weight of this world and the government rests on His shoulders. Instead of ours. He is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).