Celebrating the Greatest Gift

December 8th, 2017

It’s hard to believe Christmas is only two weeks away. It seems like every year, the holiday sneaks up on us, and if we’re not careful, parties, shopping, and church commitments (to name a few) can conspire to steal our joy. Even here at Liberty HealthShare, the work doesn’t stop around the holidays. In fact, this time of year is even busier for our staff.

While we do our best to meet all our commitments, there’s plenty to do at home, too. And even though traditions root us in the past with the comfortable and familiar, if we aren’t careful, they can also create more stress. Those things we do every year simply because “it’s the way we’ve always done things” can sometimes cause grief or undue stress if they remind us of painful memories or place unrealistic expectations on us.

So in this season of hustle, bustle, carols, and bells, is there any way to come out on the other side feeling refreshed rather than burned out? It sounds like an over-simplification, but the best place to start is by reflecting on what Christmas is really about.

2,000 years ago, instead of a shopping mall, events took place in a cramped and smelly stable. Instead of a church pageant, there was the glory of an angelic announcement. And instead of Santa, the main characters were a young couple and their newborn son, some rough shepherds, and three wise men.

Each in their own way, this motley crew was led to that moment by faith in what seemed impossible. God had come to earth in the most unlikely way, born a helpless baby. No one, not even His mother, could fully understand what this would ultimately mean; how it would change everything, but there they were, worshipping the newborn king that Bethlehem night.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, one of the dangers is that we will worship or, said differently, revere and prioritize the activities that surround the holiday rather than its true significance for us and for the world. We all have to fight against the story becoming only that: a quaint fairy tale, sanitized and removed from our everyday lives. The truth is, if we believe Jesus came to earth, we should be different because of it.

This year, while you bake, cook, decorate, shop, sing, and savor the many activities that make this season feel so magical, let your mind drift and consider the actual miracle of that night so long ago. If you’ve piled too many commitments on your proverbial plate, take something off. If it’s too late for that, next year, try to remember to say “yes” (and “no”) to the right things so your heart can "prepare Him room," as the words of the carol say.

If you find you and your family have become focused mainly on Christmas presents, food, and entertainment, maybe this year you can spend some time with those who could use a friendly face and a warm meal. Turn tradition on its head and go give your time to someone who is lonely. Then talk with your kids about your experience, counting your blessings and remembering those you met.

Here at Liberty, our staff is generously helping our community through a “Coats for Kids” drive and a “Giving Tree,” where many have bought, wrapped, and dropped off new gifts for children at a local school. Out of their own private resources, they are brightening the holidays of perfect strangers.

Jesus’ life was and is the greatest gift this world has ever received. Even as we celebrate with loved ones, embracing old and new traditions, taking in the wonder of the season, and relaxing a bit, let’s remember why we celebrate at all. God saw people worth redeeming and He sent His Son to do it. We’ve been tasked with carrying on Jesus' loving work while we’re here. His birthday seems like a great time to do just that.

From Liberty HealthShare, God bless you, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.