What is it that you love about Christmas? When I was growing up I enjoyed the food, spending time with the family, the Christmas films, but if I’m really honest, the things I loved were the presents. I was so excited to come downstairs and open my stocking to see what Santa had brought. Then, after breakfast, my family would gather together to open the presents. This was a bittersweet moment for me as I found that, though I was excited to open them, and was pleased to receive my presents, I ended up feeling disappointed. And so from lunchtime onwards, each Christmas Day, I felt a terrible sense of disappointment. Looking back I can see that my problem was the expectations I had laid upon these presents, and they couldn’t live up to the importance I placed upon them.
This Christmas, as we know, is going to be a little bit different. Some of us won’t see our families as we wanted. Shopping for Christmas presents might have been a real challenge for others. Still more people might already have an overwhelming sense of disappointment when thinking about Christmas. That is understandable all things considered. But this morning I felt God reminding me that Christmas isn’t about presents and food, or even family – though meeting with family is especially good and important. Christmas was originally set up as a marker in the calendar to help draw us near to an important reality. Christians celebrate Christmas to help them remember the moment that God entered into the world in the person of Jesus: God with us.
Christmas then doesn’t need to rely upon experience, or indeed possessions, but instead must rely upon a relationship. For it was at Jesus’ birth that the beginnings of a new relationship with God were founded. God entered the world to save us. But why? Because of love. Love was His motivation. As John writes:
9 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
So if you’re feeling disappointed with Christmas this year, please remember what it’s all about. You may feel you’ve lost out on Christmas this year, but you haven’t. A relationship with Jesus, and His love for you, is imperishable. His love for you will never end, and He will be with you this Christmas time.