Christmas Stirs Many Emotions

Christmas Stirs Many Emotions

Walk Thru Bethlehem was an incredible success. Thousands walked through the village to experience this amazing outreach of our church. Thank you to everybody who worked so hard this year!

This week, we will ordain two of our staff members. Farrell Mason’s ordination is in the sanctuary Thursday evening at 5 p.m. and Jenny Simmons’ ordination is in the chapel Sunday at 3 p.m. Members are invited to both. We celebrate both of these incredible ladies!

I have always loved the Christmas season. I love the parties, the lights, the trees, the wreaths, the music, and everything that comes with this wonderful time of year. Our family always watches Home Alone 1 & 2, Cousin Eddie making his surprise appearance in Christmas Vacation, Elf, A Christmas Story, and all the other classic movies. I believe that Christmas is a time for us to reflect upon our lives and everything that has happened over the past year, the good, the bad, the joyous times, the sad times. How we’ve grown. Who we’ve lost. What has always remained true is that at Christmas, we all experience a very wide range of emotions. We get to connect with family and friends. We get to remember those who have moved on from this world. We get to think back to Christmases past where we grew up, where life was different, kids were little, and the world didn’t seem quite so crazy and chaotic.

The truth is, many of us live our lives the exact same way that we go through the Christmas season – very busy, very tired, stressed out, rushing around, distracted, in a hurry, not slowing down, not being quiet, and then suddenly, we miss it. We turn around and we have missed it! Children have grown up and moved away. They’ve married and started their own families. Grandchildren are born. Parents have aged and perhaps even passed on. Relationships have drifted apart. Friendships have changed. Christmas is always a reminder that life is full of change and it presses forward whether we want it to or not. So if you’re not careful you might miss this special season. But one truth remains. Whatever emotions you are experiencing this Christmas, whatever has happened this year for good or bad, it is still possible to find joy.

Joy will always be different from happiness. We all want to be happy but nobody is happy all the time. Joy is much deeper, more meaningful, and it resonates in the depths of our soul. Joy involves the acceptance of life the way it is, flaws, disappointments, pain, and all. And joy can come when we least expect it. There are many things that try to stand in the way of joy – stress, worry, pain, fear, envy, anger, selfishness, loneliness, addiction. But these are simply human realities, obstacles that we must all face and overcome. We should learn to find joy in the ordinary, basic things of life. Stanley Hauerwas articulates it well in The Peaceable Kingdom, “The most remarkable aspect of learning to live joyfully is that we learn to see the simple and most common aspects of our existence, such as our friends, our spouses, our children, as sheer gifts to which we have no right but who are nonetheless present to us.” Joy and inner peace go hand in hand. Nobody ever said that finding joy is easy. But in a world of constant noise, breaking news, never ending distractions, anger, and discontentment, we need to experience something different and transcending. Christmas is a time to do that.

The carol says, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Yes, it’s a weary world, but we stand ready to rejoice. It’s still not too late to find joy this Christmas. It will only come when you are fully present with the people that you love and when you open your heart to fully embrace the mystery and presence of God.


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