Christmas Isn’t About Being Happy.

There are a few songs that I feel sum up how most Americans approach Christmas and one of those is Eddie Pola & George Wyle’S “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time
Yes the most wonderful time
Oh the most wonderful time
Of the year

The lyrics of this “classic” point toward the happiness and festive nature of the Christmas season.  They speak of fun and frivolity which many expect at Christmas. The trouble is Christmas is not about happiness. Christmas and all of the surrounding celebrations might make some of us excited or happy; but that is not Christmas’ purpose.  Christmas is about bringing JOY and no, they are not the same.  I know that if you look up synonyms for joy happiness is often first word on the list, but for Christians (and that is who celebrate Christmas) they are not the same thing.  Unfortunately, many Christians do not seem to understand this fact,

I have talked with several individuals who, for whatever reason, say they do not feel like celebrating Christmas.  Usually these individuals have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, or a diagnosis of a serious illness.  Often what these people are telling me is that they are not happy and do not feel like celebrating.  That much I understand and sympathize with.  It is hard to feel in a festive mood when grieving.  But, Christmas is about joy.  Joy is a contentment and peace in accepting God’s grace.  This is not a fleeting pleasure or time of excitement caused by sentimentalism or the potential for presents.  Joy is the deep recognition that God is at work in the world and in your own life that allows you to have a sense of gratitude within your life.  Joy is an ability to take delight in what God is doing in and around you despite the circumstances you face.

When Jesus was born Judea was an occupied land and many people were oppressed, yet his birth was a reason for joy.  Jesus caused joy because he allowed people to take delight in what God was doing around them (specifically taking on humanity).  Joy is what led Paul to write, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 while imprisoned.   Paul is telling the Philippians to express their joy always, strong words from a man who little reason to celebrate or be happy.  The Church has traditionally understood this message, which is why we light the Joy candle immediately before celebrating three days of fasting.  Joy is not dependent on a person’s emotional state, rather it is dependent on our connectivity to the Spirit of God.  If we are close to God we will experience and express joy during the Christmas season.

We do a disservice to people when we expect happiness at Christmas, because for many happiness is impossible.  If I have any grudge with the phrase “happy holidays” it is because happiness is not the goal of these holy days nor is it possible for some.  When we approach Christmas for happiness we walk down a path that takes us away from God and toward our own selfish desires.  If we continue down this path long enough we become miserable because we try to make Christmas our slave, something it can never be.  If we are serious about celebrating the Christmas season can we please stop asking people to be happy and start helping them to connect to God, so they will be able to experience the joy of the Christmas season.  We need to help people see how God in Christ is transforming the world, eliminating suffering, sickness, and death.  When people see this they can celebrate the season despite their own suffering.  Yes, they might not be able to participate in all of the excitement, but they will still be able to celebrate Christmas.  And, I would say these celebrations are often far more meaningful and profound than those shown by we who do not have to look past difficulties.  Should your Christmas be blue and not a festive sight may it still be a joyous celebration of God’s triumphant work.

 

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Allan R. Bevere

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Quincy Wheeler's Blog

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Jesus Monotheism: Digital

Reflections on life

The Biblical World

Reflections on life

Allan R. Bevere

Reflections on life

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