Christmastime is here. Carols on Cd’s and choirs on TV, tear-jerker movies of lost love and found meaning and purpose, laughter at silly lyrics of ‘you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch’ and ‘No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses, I only like Hippopotamuses’ float across the air, the dark night lit by twinkling lights on houses and yards decked out with clear LED strings around trees, over fences, up chimneys and draped on bushes. Whole streets are transformed into wonderlands of colors and sparkles and strings of lit icicles along roof lines.
There’s the flap on the media about how much more polite and less threatening it is to say ‘Happy Holiday’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ and kids now have Winter breaks from school instead of Christmas break. They’re still out of school, though, and most of them still go to bed on Christmas Eve all hyped up and excited about those wrapped gifts under the tree.
The politically correct police try to pretend there’s no deeper meaning than Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman and apparently big business agrees as we’re inundated with advertising to urge us to shop, shop, shop, spend, spend, spend, until we collapse from all the stress and turkey and pie overload.
But there’s something deeper, richer about the last days of December than the other days of any given year. After all, why do people decorate the outside of their houses, put up trees inside, bake goodies to give away and spend hours shopping and wrapping gifts? If it’s all just a marketing ploy why does the time of Christmas mean excitement or joy, or peace or any number of other feelings to millions? Oh, sure, not everyone has a happy Christmas memory from childhood but why do we all long for the warmth, the promise of peace and the happiness that seems to go with the time of year?
How could the world’s people, so different in their customs, their traditions, their histories and their memories all want the same things, peace and joy? And keep on wanting those things generation after generation, time after time? And keep on trying to make life less bleak, less dark, less painful. More filled with light and beauty. And peace and joy. Why?
Unless. Unless, we were made with a soul and a spirit that respond to joy and peace. Made with a soul and a spirit that crave the knowing that we were made for something greater than the everyday. That we were made for joy and peace.
It was that same craving that sent those three Wisemen on a road trip, following a star that they believed would lead them to the very originator of joy and peace. They found that joy. It came to the world in that tiny baby, Jesus.
Every year we go through it all again, we wrap those presents, decorate that tree. Every year we search for peace and joy. Every year we’re reminded of the real meaning of life. And if we listen to the twinkling lights, the rustling of the wrapping paper and the faint sound of carols through the night, we’ll find that peace and joy. Just like the Christmas carol says, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come.’ Come for you. Come for me.