The days leading to Christmas are demanding and filled with stress. It would be easy to become a grouch like Ebenezer Scrooge without even realizing it. And yet Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and laughter. For those who don’t feel like laughing or who don’t have a sense of joy, Christmas can be depressing.
I remember a song from my childhood days, sung by our children’s choir: Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
The song reminds me that my life is filled with blessings even when marketers lead me to believe I am deprived because I don’t have the latest gadget. In this world I live in, it’s difficult to count my blessings when the media seems to lift up “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” as the lifestyle to pursue.
Charles Maynard recently told the story of visiting a home to bless a family experiencing some very hard times. It was June, and Charles was pastor at Seymour United Methodist Church. His daughter, Anna, was a small child at the time. Charles took Anna with him to deliver some much-needed help to the family’s home.
After the delivery, Charles said he remembered looking back at the shabby house when he heard his daughter say, “Look, Daddy, I see Christmas.”
Confused, Charles asked Anna what she had said.
"I see Christmas!”
Charles looked again at the house, saw its depressed condition, and wondered what Anna was seeing.
Then he looked closer and saw, under the eves of the house, a string of Christmas lights.
"All I could see was the shabby condition of the house,” Charles noted many years later, “but Anna, with a different perspective, saw Christmas.”
Anna helped to drive out the Scrooge that day in June. I wonder what it will take to drive out the Scrooge among us right now. Christmas is seeking to break out in so many places, but we don’t have eyes to see Christ in our midst. Look! I mean, look closer. There is Jesus, serving a meal to a homeless person. There he is, visiting a sick one. There he is in the smile of a waitress, when her feet are hurting.
There he is in the gift of surgery and healing to a small Iraqi child whose face and body were so badly burned. There Jesus is in Sneedville, helping people learn how to market their locally produced goods. There Jesus is on the Gulf Coast, helping people put their lives back together.
for Jesus in your neighborhood, at the supermarket, in the housing
project, at the bank, in your schools, around the tables where we
gather to eat, and yes, even in our church buildings. There Jesus is.
Sometimes we Christians forget that the real glamour and richness of Christmas is that God didn’t forget us or our struggles to find meaning in life. Jesus came to cast out the Scrooge that causes us to doubt God’s love for us.
This is the Jesus I want to share with you this Christmas season – an active Jesus who has not abandoned the world, but who is alive and well.
Merry Christmas from James, Delphine, JaNaé, and Josh