The Most Wonderful Time of the year
Andy Williams sang it. The movie (with that name) declared it, but I have a hunch that not all of us would agree.
For some it’s more like the worst time of the year. Maybe because it’s a time we feel most alone. Or because we miss loved ones the most. Or perhaps because it’s a time of painful memories.
Even if none of those situations are true of us (and I hope and pray they aren’t), I suspect that for all of us Christmas has this huge down-side simply because it’s a season of stress, crazy busyness, too much baking and preparing, and too much running around.
This makes me smile. I find it a tad ironic that this is how we (me included) celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
When he was born the angel promised that Jesus would bring us “peace.” And in one or Christ’s most famous quotes he promised us “rest.”
Remember what he said? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
This rest he promised was more than just a nap on the couch. More than a quick coffee break from the treadmill of life.
It was meant to be something deep-seated; a supernatural peace that carries us through life. That stays with us through whatever life throws at us. Through all the upheaval and ugliness that comes our way: illness, loneliness, even the death of loved ones.
So how can this peace, this rest, become ours? In two ways.
It begins us with finding peace with God. That happens when we own up to our to our wrong living (our sin) and ask Christ to forgive us. This reconciles us to God.
That’s where ‘rest’ begins as we become dearly loved children of God and as we increasingly experience God taking care of us.
Christ also gives us the rest we need by coming to live within us. This may seem hard to grasp, but there’s something amazing about having God ‘move in.’ Then come what may in life, he is able to give us strength and comfort to help us through.
I think Blaise Pascal, one of the greatest scientists of the 17th century explained best how Christ gives us rest.
He discovered that even though he enjoyed success, pleasure, and a good life in many ways, he still felt empty. His conclusion was that we have a ‘God-shaped’ hole in our hearts that only God himself could fill.
I do hope that your Christmas will be a most ‘wonderful time of the year.’
Yet in the hustle and bustle of it all, remember, that at this time and always there is ‘rest’ to be found and peace. It’s in the Christ of Christmas, the Prince of Peace.