Christmas starThe Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. [Isaiah 61:1-2 (NLT)]

Much of our Advent season is not spent joyfully looking forward to celebrating the birth of the Christ child. Instead, in a mad frenzy of shopping, we haunt the malls, spend hours on line, pore over every catalogue, search for sales and coupons and still lose hope of ever finding the perfect gift for everyone on our list. We get stressed over giving and going to parties, wrapping and mailing packages, Christmas cards and letters, travel arrangements or vacation plans, seasonal decorating, and preparing holiday dinners. When we say, “Merry Christmas!” we often find ourselves mumbling a Scrooge-like “Bah! Humbug” under our breath! Instead of looking forward to Christmas with anticipation, we can’t wait until it’s all over and done.

Dr. Seuss’ Grinch eventually realized Christmas really has nothing to do with all those trappings; I wonder why we have so much trouble remembering that same thing. It’s not about  gifts, parties, cards, presents or decorations—Jesus and His message of love, redemption, forgiveness and salvation is the reason for the season! The stable that housed the Holy Family wasn’t decorated with wreaths, ribbons, holly or tinsel and Mary didn’t send out 100 birth announcements. God took care of the only decoration with a bright star and provided the entertainment with a heavenly chorus. Shepherds were the first holiday guests and they didn’t care about the stable’s decor or cleanliness. The Magi’s Christmas presents were odd gifts for an infant and probably arrived two years late.

Tonight, take a drive and look at the Christmas lights festooned around your town; let them remind you of Isaiah’s promise; “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light … For a child is born to us.” Then let us joyfully raise our voices in a “Hallelujah!” instead of “Humbug!”

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. [From “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss]

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine … For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:2,6 (NLT)]

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