"So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."
- Colossians 2 :16-17
I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There has always been something special to me about this time of the year, going back to my earliest days of childhood.
What is it that we love about Christmas, once we get past the initial trappings?
I think it is the sense of wonder, beauty, and anticipation. It is the music, the look of surprise on a child's face, and the amazing food. It's the companionship of family and good friends. It is also the absence of strife and meanness (that is, with the exception of the crowds on "Black Friday").
But how often does Christmas really deliver on its promises? A little bit here and there, but by and large, it ends up being the endless drone of mind-numbing ads on TV. It is the friction and pressure that comes when we are obligated to purchase gifts for people we barely know. It is the expectation put on us by others and sometimes even ourselves.
Then there is that big post-Christmas letdown-the letdown of expectations that can never really be met. We were not able to give what we really wanted to give, or what they really wanted to receive. Or you yourself did not get what you had hoped for. Then there are those bills that come due . . .
So what is Christmas at its worst? It is a crass, commercial, empty, exhausting, and very expensive ritual that drags on endlessly for months at a time.
What is Christmas at its best? It is a glimpse of things to come-the beauty, the worshipful music, the adoring angels, the love, the warmth, the promise, the hope. . .all things promised to us in a life to yet come.
You see, Christmas is a promise. It is a promise that has not yet been fully kept.
Christmas cannot be all that we want it to be. It's only a holiday. Christmas cannot bring harmony to your home. Christmas cannot bring peace on earth. Christmas cannot bring happiness.
But Christ Himself can do all of this and more. That is really what we are longing for deep inside.
Not Christmas, but Christ.
Not merriment, but the Messiah.
Not goodwill, but God.
Not presents, but His presence.
Anything or anyone short of this will disappoint. But God never will.
That's what I want for Christmas-Jesus Christ.