In reading a sermon for Christmas by William Willimon this morning, I was reminded of the real reason why Christmas can be such a ‘downer’ for so many people: they’re emphasizing that which will pass away, that which will disappoint, in one way or another, eventually.
When we emphasize gifts, it’s obvious enough that they’ll break or wear out or cease to be sufficiently interesting. But even when we emphasize children or family, which so many do today to avoid being too ‘religious’ about Christmas (!), these things can disappoint, too, because people are people; they sin, they get sick, they move, they disappoint, they die. There is a let-down when we emphasize family and children because these don’t line up to the fairy-tale TV special standards, or at least, not for very long.
Family disappoints when we no longer hang a stocking or set a place at dinner for them.
No, the key is to emphasize that which is eternal and eternally faithful and eternally significant: when we emphasize the birth of Jesus, and his great qualities, instead of emphasizing anything human, we will be less apt to be disappointed at Christmas. When Jesus – God-become-human – is what really matters, Christmas is never a ‘downer’.
Something to think about.