“It was the best of times … it was the worst of times …” are also, unfortunately, the words that many of us have used to emotionally and spiritually pen our Christmas stories and memories.
“It was the best of times …” are the 6 words jubilantly chosen to describe a holiday cup that is frothy and running over with cheer, gifts, healthy relationships and a beautifully decorated home.
“It was the best of times …” seems to be the caption that is used to describe an iconic Rockwellian picture of a snow-decked landscape looking into the window of a red and green home that has an interesting yet functional family at its core. The kids are throwing wrapping paper everywhere … the parents are still dressed in their robes with deep circles under their eyes yet are able to smile at the pictured noise and confusion … the holiday turkey is browning perfectly in the oven with its aroma wafting through the expectant air … and Gramma is on her way with a sleigh filled with pumpkin pies and figgy pudding!
It certainly IS the best of times!
“It was the worst of times” … are often the December lyrics of choice when the bottom has fallen out of one’s shaky attempt at living.
Food stamps may be a daily reality and necessity.
The dysfunction of family relationships is a constant reminder of what is wrong with life.
This Christmas may be spent in the terror of the ICU rather than by the warmth of a welcoming fireplace with eggnog in one hand and a Christmas cookie in the other.
Perhaps rather than torturous relationships to deal with, there is no family to gather around the sparsely bedecked caricature of Charlie Brown’s famous tree.
Money is scarce … health is questionable … just one mortgage payment away from losing the family home … there will be no Santa Claus coming down the chimney this year to leave a memorable deposit of materialism under the lonely tree.
For you, Christmas this year, truly may be the worst of times.
However, I happen to believe, that judging the authenticity or joy of Christmas by what we have or do not have is a foolish and impulsive mistake of gargantuan proportions.
Christmas was never meant to be measured by human standards or by a glass that is gleefully half-full or agonizingly half-empty.
What one sees circumstantially is largely unable to coincide with earth’s attempt at fulfillment because of heaven’s promise of delivered joy!
See … it is not in what you do have or do not have that should determine how you are able to describe your Christmas this year or any calendar year! It is always found … eternally found … in Who He is!
He is joy when your life seems empty.
He is peace when all around you are in conflict.
He is hope when all human wells have run dry.
He is the Healer in a life that is sick, fragile and wasted.
He is Christmas!
He is what makes any day of any year the very best of times.
Don’t be so small in your expectations of a truly memorable Christmas that you boil it down to gifts, a bevy of celebratory people or how much red and green is strewn around your home.
Instead, this Christmas, remember what Christmastime is powerfully all about:
A young woman who has had her world invaded with the promise that with God … all things are possible!
The plans of a young man that were hurriedly changed because the God of the universe interrupted his human desire for happy ever after.
A manure-filled, mouse-scurrying stable that welcomed the Baby Who was born to be the King of all Kings.
Shepherds, with dirt under the fingernails, grime in their brains and sheep drool on their robes who were invited to sing with the angels!
A song so loud and so triumphant that it broke through the coldness and darkness of a world in pain to prounouce, “Let there be joy!”
Although I don’t know the pain of your past or the stark reality of the Christmas that will be remembered as 2013, this is what I do know about you and your life …
You are loved by the God Who sent His Son into the darkness and confusion of the warzone of life this side of eternity.
The angels still invite modern day shepherds to sing … to sing loudly … to sing triumphantly!
Although your desire for “happy ever after” may be marred by the mess you have made of your life … God still has the power to intervene because of Christmas!
And … the message that the angel delivered to an incredulous virgin girl is still heaven’s message to you today … nothing is impossible with God!
And so … whatever circumstances you face today … my prayer is that your life will be remembered as a lasting and genuine Christmas Carol because finally … you understand … you eternally comprehend what the best of times has always been about!