Christmas is upon us. And, it is both a wonder and a time of peril.
Why is it a wonder? This is The Baptist Courier; I’m confident you get it. But as for the perils? They are legion. This is no surprise. Among other realities, why wouldn’t the enemy of our souls make our great celebration a time of difficulty?
Christmas is a time of potential physical dangers, of course. (Trust me, I see it.) We overexert and overeat. We risk life and limb putting up decorations on ladders and attaching electricity to blinking lights; we light up dry trees in dry houses.
Cooks get burned in the kitchen, and adults fall over children’s toys. Cars crash. At family gatherings, we share our infections.
And we share our inner wounds in arguments and slights.
The season can also give us other types of pain. Christmas, because we focus so much on how it was (or how we think it should be), may appear to be nothing like the Hallmark special we desire. For many, holiday memories trigger post-traumatic stress disorder as those who are afflicted recall times of danger, loss, violence, abuse, death — either from personal experience, or from combat, or from work as first-responders. In others, addiction, depression and anxiety rise up as soon as Christmas carols start on the radio.
Grief raises its head, or the impending loss of loved ones makes it all seem anything but the bright time of lights and laughter.
Yet, there is further danger. That we should forget to treat the season as a kind of sabbath rest for our burdened hearts. We know that it is rude to go to a birthday celebration, mope around and ignore the guest of honor. But it is all too common at Christmas as we frantically run about, trying to work more and buy more. In the process, we spend more time away from our treasured friends and family, while putting the “birthday boy” at the very bottom of the list.
We invert the entire season, making it unrecognizable. For, kept in proper geometry, we can hold to the fact that Christmas is a guidepost pointing forward, not backward. There will be a day when we celebrate this natal feast in a place with no loss, no memory of hurt, no unhealed, lingering wounds, no fear, and no thought of the next day’s work schedule.
Until then, we must be physically careful, prevent injury, and care for our physical ailments. In many instances, we should seek professional help from counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists.
Here is this doctor’s prescription: Pray, praise, play, rest, read, sing, listen to stories, laugh, forgive, heal and share lavish time (as much as it’s available) with your dear ones and with the One whom we celebrate. We need rest and quiet, and there are few times better than when the air is cold, the house is warm, and the birth of the Savior is the source of our ultimate hope and healing.