Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stressmas, Stressmas time is here

The Christmas season is in full swing now, with only 12 days until Christmas - and I haven't sent out my Christmas cards yet! Or completed my Christmas shopping! Yikes!

Christmas season can certainly be stressful. We have a tendency to overextend ourselves during the season, both financially and with our schedules. There are too many events on our calendars - band concert one night, work Christmas party another night, caroling another night, etc. Our Christmas gift lists seem to get longer every year, and we spend more time and money to buy the perfect gift for each person on our list. We don't seem to have enough time to do what we think needs to be done.

There are other kinds of stress during the Christmas season. Some families are having financial stress. They can't even pay their regular bills, so Christmas presents are out of the question. There are families with loved ones who are sick. And there are families who are missing a loved one, either through death or through absence.

But there is a way out of the stress cycle that the Christmas season can put us in. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, an exasperated Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about. Linus Van Pelt then quotes the following from Luke 2: "Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” Then Linus turns to Charlie Brown and says, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." That young man was wise beyond his years, even if he did have a security blanket.

Christmas is not about fancy trees, lots of presents, fancy decorations, cookies, or good food. Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth to save us from our sins. In the grand scheme of things, the most important thing about Christmas (and indeed, all of life) is Jesus. Make some time out of your busy schedule to spend time with Him. Spend time with Him in church, of course, but also in your life. When stress threatens to envelope you, remember these words He said: "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." In the end, it's not important how many presents you buy, or what kind food you serve, or what your Christmas decorations look like. What's most important is that we celebrate that Jesus came down to earth in a frail human form to live among us. The rest of the stuff is just, well, stuff.

That's all for now! Have a great day!