Both wonder and worry surface during Christmas

Phil Fischer wrote, “Christmas has been hijacked by cynics, exploited by capitalists, and trampled by consumers ...

Phil Fischer wrote, “Christmas has been hijacked by cynics, exploited by capitalists, and trampled by consumers … checkout lines go on forever; we growl and whine when only one register is open. There is no charity in the mall parking lot; we hunt the elusive parking space like wolves.”

Ironically, as I read Fischer’s column, the radio began playing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” As I simultaneously read and listened, I asked myself, “Which side of the equation am I on?” I admitted that I experience both the wonder and the worry of the season.

It’s a sad commentary that we get so wound up that we miss the mystery and magnificence of Christmas. Can this be remedied?

Dropping some materialism is a start. Last year, our family decided to draw names rather than purchase gifts for everyone (except for the grandchildren, of course). The plan is to use the savings for family get-togethers.

Something else that we can do is to try to take the focus off of self and consider the needs of others. Christmas is, generally speaking, a good time for most.

But, for some, it’s a time of painful memories, present limitations and a reminder that the future looks bleak. The problem of loneliness is never more pronounced than at Christmastime.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life and we probably don’t have to look far to find an opportunity to do so. Remember, we are defined and refined not by what we get, but by what we give.

Furthermore, it’s critical that we remember the “Reason for the Season.” I’m reminded of a mother who lost her three-year-old son while running about furiously in last minute Christmas shopping. She found him gazing intently at a nativity scene. Hearing his mother’s hysterical call, he turned and shouted happily, “Look, mommy! It’s Jesus … baby Jesus in the manger!”

With indifference to his joy, she impatiently hauled him away saying, “We don’t have time for any of that!”

We need to take time for some of that! If you enjoy reading, the Christmas story holds all the intrigue and excitement of a Hollywood epic. A young engaged couple have a scandal hanging over their heads. The young lady is pregnant, but tenaciously maintains that not only has she remained chaste, but the child she carries is the Son of God!

To reduce worry and re-introduce the wonder of Christmas, read the story of the birth of Jesus. It’s found in Matthew 1:18 – 2:23 and Luke 1:5 – 2:52. It starts like this … “This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph …” (Matthew 1:18).

Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.