Surviving Christmas

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel.”  Isaiah 7:14

From ads on TV, to posts on Facebook, there seems to be a consensus that Christmas has come at an inconvenient time this year. There’s frustration with the hustle and bustle; people brag that they’ve arranged all their decorations so they “don’t have to put up with it anymore;” and everyone seems to echo the sentiment that “we don’t really need anything this year.”

Well, with no offense to those who share these beliefs, but I have to sincerely disagree.

But Christmas is still far from the minds of most of us students. The countdown to finals has taken priority over observing the advent season. In the middle of preparing for tests, one of my friends sent me a link to the following poem. Oscar Wilde once said, “In this world there are two tragedies. One is not getting what [you] want, and the other is getting it.”  While the poem below is anonymous, I think the author would agree with Mr. Wilde.

“We just couldn’t wait to grow up”                                                
When getting high meant swinging on the playground?
When “wear protection” meant buckling a helmet?
When Dad’s shoulders were the highest place on earth
And Mom was your hero?
Your worst fear was your sibling getting more dessert?
Race issues were over who ran the fastest in PE?
War was only a card game?
The only drug you knew was cough medicine?
The only thing that hurt you were skinned knees?
And “goodbye” only meant until tomorrow?
And we just couldn’t wait to grow up…

It seems that throughout life we just want to be a little bit more “grown up.” We want just a little more knowledge, a little more power, a little more control, etc. But of course all knowledge, power, and control come with a price.

A spiritual hero of mine handed me a devotional on Sunday called, My Broken Palace. In it were stories of people crushed by their own brokenness. One girl contemplates suicide wondering if her family would have more money without her. One boy fears his father will beat him again after he sends his friend to the hospital during a fight.  Another girl watches her reputation unravel after texting a naked photo to her boyfriend. Another boy tries to convince himself he is normal as his addiction to pornography spirals out of control. The stories go on as teens deal with eating disorders, rape, and other extreme stresses…the stories are also all true.

I think the metaphor of a “broken palace” is a poignant one. To Oscar Wilde’s point, how often do we find that our castles were built of sand and the dreams we were chasing have lead us into dilemmas we never imagined? Have you ever had a moment like Nathanael where you look at the nightmare in front of you and say, “How can anything good come out of this?”

Author Richard Paul Evans has written seven Christmas novels, all of which have spent time on the New York Times bestsellers lists. In his newest novel, Lost December, he writes, “The greatest hope in this our world is just a second chance to do what we should have done right in the first place.”

Isn’t that what so many people seem to be looking for these days?
Isn’t that what Jesus preached?
Isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to believe in?
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Some of these thoughts had been on my mind when I was listening to the radio today.  As the station clicked into “O come, O come Emmanuel” the opening lines struck me in a way they never had before.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel/And ransom captive Israel/That mourns in lonely exile here/ Until the Son of God appears/ Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel/Shall come to thee O Israel.”

It dawned on me in that moment that we are “captive Israel.” We are dealing with pain, with guilt, with stress, with grief, with fear, with doubt, etc. We are captive and we are mourning.

So, in circling back to my original point, I think there is something we all need this holiday season. I think what we need is: Christmas!

We need to journey to Bethlehem. We need to see the stars and hear the angels. We need to look at the new born King and see that Hope has come into the world. We need to know that no matter what we’ve done or how we feel, that God has come to set us free and give us a second chance.

So this Christmas season, I hope you find the opportunity to “rejoice!” Maybe you enjoy Christmas shopping, or maybe you loath the site of a mall. Perhaps you love decorating, or perhaps you see it as extra work. Holiday parties might be your thing, or you may simply see them a get-together of tacky sweater owners. Regardless of how you like to celebrate, may the good news of Christmas bring you peace and fill you with hope!

Zach Herzog

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Veanna wrote:
To think, I was cofsnued a minute ago.

Thu, December 15, 2011 @ 9:44 PM

2. inrpvt wrote:
7gRJ7v zzycrutkuzzy

Sat, December 17, 2011 @ 1:11 AM

3. rfehsatt wrote:
ibyjMl wzsbhkethwah

Sun, December 18, 2011 @ 5:44 AM

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