‘Tis the season. . .
With Christmas so near, I want to invite you to finish that phrase.
‘Tis the season for listening to Christmas music (my favorite Christmas album is Mariah Carey’s); for consuming way too many sweets and hot cocoa; for spending time with family and friends; for eating our favorite foods; and of course, for giving and getting the perfect gift! These are all great answers. But, if we are honest, they only go as deep as the surface. The reality is that this time of year brings so much more.
‘Tis the season for brokenness, loneliness, anxiety, fear, emptiness, and questioning…
because of that messy relationship or tough life choice that caused things to spiral out of control.
because this is the first Christmas that you are spending without that loved one.
… anxiety and fear
because every time your family gets together there is drama and fighting, and you have no idea what to expect this year.
because by now you thought you would have found that perfect someone to share this special season with, and you wonder if you will ever find them.
because, in the busyness of the season, the search for the perfect gift, and all the details that go into everything, you have lost sight of what the season is truly about.
If we are all honest, we will admit that we have been in this place before, and many of us are in this place right now. This season comes with so many good things, but if we are not careful, we miss it all. If you are there or have been there, you are not alone! As a matter of fact, you are in good company. Remember Mary and Joseph?
In Luke 1, when we are first introduced to Mary and Joseph, the earthly parents of Jesus, we learn that they are engaged. I imagine that before they found out about Jesus, they had other things on their minds. They were probably planning the wedding of their dreams, making career plans, or working on picking out the perfect place to live. And though wedding planning can be stressful at times (just ask anyone who has been a part of planning a wedding before), they probably had a lot of fun things going on. But that all changed in a matter of minutes.
Let’s first look at when things change for Mary…
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)
The angel of the Lord comes and is about to tell Mary something huge, and look at her response: “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.’” (Luke 1:39-31)
‘Tis the season for what? For confusion, for uncertainty, and for fear. But I want you to see something. Mary didn’t get stuck in that place. Look at how she ultimately responds: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38) She quickly decides that she isn’t going to stuck in this situation.
Now, let’s look at Joseph.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18-19)
‘Tis the season for what? Brokenness because he believed his marriage to Mary would never come to be. Loneliness and hurt because the life plans he had made were ending. But Joseph, much like Mary, decides that he isn’t going to stay stuck here.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (Matthew 1:20-22; 24)
He, too, quickly decides that he isn’t going to stuck in this situation. What was the difference maker?
Well, the “what” is actually a “who”. It is God! And here is the truth. We can continue to define this season as a season of brokenness, loneliness, anxiety, fear, emptiness, and questioning. But it all changes when we allow God to be the difference maker and when we set our eyes upon what this season is really about. Look at how the prophet Isaiah describes what this season is all about:
“For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When we shift our focus and set our eyes on this, it changes everything.
‘Tis the season to worship and experience Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.