"A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at shelf after shelf full of toys and everything else imaginable and after hours of hearing both her children asking and teasing for everything they saw on those many shelves, she had had it and was ready to go home.
She finally made it to the elevator with her two children. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season.
Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, attend every housewarming,
taste all the holiday goodies.
The pressure to get that perfect gift for every single person on her shopping list.
The pressure to make the holiday experience perfect for her children.
The pressure to make the holiday season "joyful and triumphant" for all!
The pressure to do all the cooking and baking and wrapping.
And finally, the pressure to make sure she didn't forget anyone on her Christmas card list.
She was already exhausted and frustrated just thinking about all of it!
At last the elevator doors opened. There was already quite a crowd in the car. She pushed her way on and dragged her two kids in with her and all her bags. When the doors closed, she just couldn't take it any longer and sighed in obvious frustration, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot!"
A hush fell over the crowd of people. From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond,
"Don't worry, Lady, we already crucified Him."
For the rest of the trip down, the elevator was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop."
God, Himself, started "this whole Christmas thing" when He sent Jesus, His only son, to earth as a babe in a manger. Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Hope of all of Israel. Today, He is our Hope. He is the One who offers us Hope as the very essence of who He is. He is the One who wants to invade our hearts - not just as a guest at Christmas time, but as a permanent resident!!
As this Christmas season gets under way, think about how you want to celebrate this year. It's so easy to get "caught up" in all the trappings of the holiday. But if we become deliberate in our planning, we can "buck the tide" and respond to "this whole Christmas thing" instead of react to it.
Take time this year to slow down.
Slow down - savor the presence of the Lord.
Slow down - be gracious to others.
Slow down - take time to reflect on the many gifts God gives us every day of the year
through His display of grace and mercy in our lives.
Slow down - take time to feel the expectation and the joy of this season.
Slow down - take time to "stop and smell the roses."
Slow down - spend time - the greatest gift of all - with those people on your Christmas list.
Slow down - reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Maybe you're feeling less than joyful this year. Unfortunate situations and the circumstances of life don't take a holiday. Stuff happens, even around the holidays and you don't feel much like celebrating.
But Jesus gives us reason to celebrate - celebrate Him - the One who will walk with you through the situations and circumstances of your life. Celebrate His coming into a world darkened by sin - the Light of the world - the One who would show the way out of darkness. The one who will cause hope to spring alive in your heart again.