The Christmas season is often a source of major stress for many people. The need to buy gifts for a slew of people sends many into a tailspin. Should I get a gift for...? Will ______ like what I got him? What if someone gets a gift for me, and I don't have one for them? In addition, many people immerse themselves into a sea of debt in order to buy all the gifts they think they need.
Grief is also a major issue during the holidays. Perhaps the season brings up harsh memories of family members. They may be dealing with the loss of a loved one. They attempt to cover up their pain in many different ways. Some turn to alcohol; others to bitterness. Some sink into a deep depression. The Christmas season should not bring about feelings of depression and bitterness, but a sense of peace.
Today we celebrate the peace that Christ came to bring us. When Mary was pregnant, she had to have been going through some emotional turmoil. Think about it. While she knew that she had never been with a man, who is really going to believe that when she's pregnant? An unwed pregnant girl. It doesn’t get much worse in first century Jerusalem. To commit adultery was punishable by death, not to mention the fact that everyone she knew (other than her aunt Elizabeth) probably looked down on her. She was the shame of her family, or at least it appeared that way. And yet, Mary's response to the angel Gabriel: "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." What peace must have been in Mary's heart to be able to maintain that kind of courage!
The world saw itself engaged in one of the most brutal wars in 1914. World War I had been five months strong by the time Christmas came around, and Europe lay in the throws of war. Yet German and British soldiers found it in their hearts to stop the fighting on Christmas Day. Soldiers from both sides met in no-man’s-land, exchanged gifts, sang carols, and even had a good-natured game of soccer. Bitter enemies put their differences aside and experienced peace that made absolutely no sense. All because of this one child.
I can only imagine that at some point after the birth of Jesus, there was a moment, even if it was short-lived, when everything stopped, and Mary and Joseph sat and gazed in amazement that the Savior of the world was lying in a trough. An incredible sense of peace must have overcome them.
Jesus came to bring peace to a chaotic world. Hate, war, violence, anxiety, depression all fill our world. As we continue toward Christmas Day, let us not forget why we celebrate. The Prince of Peace came down to the world to bring comfort. If Christmas is a stressful time of year for you, take comfort in knowing that the Prince of Peace will never leave you unsatisfied. Let go of hate, violence, or whatever it may be, and experience peace. May that peace stay with you and last far beyond Christmas Day.
Read part 1 here.
Read part 2 here.
Read part 3 here.