Dec 212017 1 Response

How to Have a Merry Christmas

It’s what we all want.

  • Little children sing it to us, “We wish you a merry Christmas.”
  • We conclude our emails with it.
  • Nearly every Christmas card says it.
  • In December ,we end every conversation with it.
  • As Nat King Cole sings, “Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.”

It’s what we all want.

But how do we get it?

How do we truly have a merry Christmas?

Just as we all desire it, we all have in our minds a way it could happen.

Your kids probably believe it is the result of just the right gift, or the right number of gifts. If they receive the toy they want, the new phone, or a set of car keys, they believe their Christmas will be merry.

Some believe it could be the result of a ring. You’ve waited long enough. You assume the reason he didn’t ask you at Thanksgiving was so he could wait until Christmas. The way to make your Christmas merry is with a little box and a bright diamond.

Your mom probably believes a merry Christmas is the result of everyone being at her house. It’s all she wants. And from her perspective it doesn’t sound too demanding considering everything she went through to put you on the planet and to raise you right. Of course, what she can’t see is that there is another grandmother or two or three that you are related to which expects your family to be at her house.

You probably have some idea. There is some object or some person or some outcome which if it occurs as you think it should, you believe your Christmas will have been merry.

There is probably nothing wrong with anything we desire. A new iPhone, a ring on your finger, being surrounded by family, and Arkansas beating Texas would probably lead to a great deal of happiness.

Yet I think a merry Christmas—not a happy Christmas—but a merry Christmas, one filled with a deep sense of meaningful joy, is not found through an object, a dinner, a ring, a family, or an event. I think it is found in a far different way.

One thing that always strikes me in remembering the first Christmas story is the amount of disappointment which must have been present.

Jesus was not welcomed into his home, surrounded by friends and family, celebrated by the community, nestled into the nursery which had been prepared nine months earlier.

He was born in the midst of great sorrow, sacrifice, and shame.

Consider the first Christmas:

Little girls start playing with dolls at a very young age. Mary had likely dreamed of this day for years, but she never dreamed she would be pregnant before married, delivering away from her home, and without her loving family.

Young men have their own hopes and dreams. I assure you Joseph’s dreams never included a wife who was pregnant by someone other than him, a birth bringing social shame instead of pride, and the religious insider now being a religious outsider because of nothing he had done.

When we think about the first Christmas, it could have been defined in a variety of ways, but “merry” is not the most obvious description.

What seems like the icing on the cake are those little words, “because there was no place for them in the inn.”

It seems like an insignificant detail to us, yet if I’m Mary or Joseph it is the most significant of oversights.

  • Haven’t we been through enough?
  • Can’t just one thing go our way?
  • Don’t I deserve at least a place to sleep?

Nothing in the first Christmas went right according to human calculation, yet when we think back to that night we think of it as “a merry little Christmas.”

And it was.

Yet notice why it was.

The first Christmas was a merry Christmas—a joy-filled Christmas—not because of a big meal, a loving family, the right gift, or everyone being in the right place at the right time. As a matter of fact, from our perspective, everything was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite the circumstances, the first Christmas was merry for one reason—God was found there. In spite of everything going wrong, they saw, experienced, and worshiped God in that first Christmas and that gave the lasting definition of it being a merry Christmas.

That is the way to have a truly merry Christmas.

It’s not found underneath a tree filled with presents.

It’s not guaranteed around a table full of family.

It’s not the result of everything going exactly as you had planned.

A merry Christmas is a Christmas in which you recognize God’s presence. In his presence, joy fills your heart even in the midst of the sorrow, pain, and disappointment.

I’m not sure what others mean when they wish you a merry Christmas, but I know what a Christian means. They are praying that no matter what your day may hold that you would recognize the presence of God with you and that his presence will bring you a deep sense of joy.

Merry Christmas.


One Response to How to Have a Merry Christmas
  1. Gina Reply

    This past year has definitely been a year filled with deep sorrow, pain and disappointment, not only for me but also for friends & family close to me. Overwhelming and numbing at times. Through it all God has blessed me with His presence, comfort, strength & love. I may not understand God’s purpose or plan at this time but I do know He is always with me. God is faithful. I am so grateful.

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