No sentimental journey
The sentiments of Christmas seem to overtake us with syrupy songs, tired traditions and endless litanies about Christmas being, “all about family.”
Do I sound like Scrooge? Perhaps, but we all know that our society has distorted the true meaning of Jesus’ birth into a fuzzy, feel-good event without much meaning. Some Christians struggle to keep Christmas pure while being pulled every which way by sentimental traditions. Not that traditions are wrong, unless they are paramount to our beliefs.
The challenge is to focus on Christ’s birth as a God-blessed, holy event rather than on a holiday filled with sentiment. After all, the real event lacked sentiment. It was surrounded with dread, danger and the promise of dire consequences.
Think about Mary. Her troubling news about her pregnancy. Her uncomfortable trip through a harsh countryside. A birth attended without midwife, sterile surroundings, and family, except for Joseph. A disturbing glimpse of her son’s future suffering and death.
Think about the shepherds. Their feelings were not sappy sentiment but fear at the angels’ appearance. Holy awe and wonder for being chosen to see the Christ Child. Utter humility at being sent to their promised king and Savior in such a noisy, smelly manger.
Think about the wisemen. Rather than embarking on a sentimental journey, theirs was fraught with danger and intrigue. Constant vigilance of highwaymen who might harm them and steal their valuable gifts. Discomfort during the long walk in darkness to the humble barn where Jesus lay. Fear that King Herod would harm the promised Messiah.
Despite feelings of fear and anxiety, these key players in the holy event we call Christmas overcame their fears with faith. The coming of their Messiah became paramount in their minds. Such thoughts left no room for sentimentality. Joy and peace in God’s promised fulfillment overruled all other feeling. Sharing their joy, we too can say with true meaning, Merry Christmas.
When we honor Christ in our celebrations, we honor not tradition, not sentimentality, but him. Peter, with Holy Spirit power and no sentimentality, told the religious rulers of his day, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Lord Jesus, thank you for your promised and fulfilled birth, death and bodily resurrection. During this holy season, we remember the joy and seriousness of your holy gift. In turn, give us the desire to honor your name before others, without sentimentality but with reverence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Mrs. Bair may be reached at email@example.com.