Christmas is a tale of two seasons for many people. It’s called the most wonderful time of the year for a good reason. The harsh realities of long winters are redeemed as early darkness becomes a blank canvas for Christmas lights, and bitter cold is endured by warming our hands with mugs of fresh hot chocolate topped by marshmallow pillows. Christmas gives families a chance to create traditions like Egg McMuffin and stockings on Christmas morning or massive meals and midnight gift exchanges. On top of all that, Christmas offers some of the best and most popular music. The Christmas season brings plenty of good things.

Yet, we feel exhausted, bitter, and broke at the end of December. The rush of jumping from one event to another, the pressure of buying the perfect gift, and the disappointment of not getting the gift we wanted wears on us. The cherry on top realizes that a new year is just around the corner, and life hasn’t changed. We sense Christmas is over, back to the real world now. I often finish December in need of a vacation.

When the calendar flips to December or even earlier for some, the Christmas rush begins, and we go like a running back barreling over the goal line through the season. How can people caught in the rush learn to enjoy and not just endure Christmas? We can orient our Christmas around the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

Looking to Christ

Churches blow the dust off the old hymnals every year to sing classic carols. These songs remind us that we all have a God-given longing only Christ can fulfill. Jesus is the “desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart” (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus).

Luke tells us of an old man named Simeon. He was a devout man and, Luke tells us, longed for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit revealed “that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” and he waited eagerly for God to fulfill his promise (Lk 2:25-26). God promised Simeon he would see the gift that would satisfy his deepest longing. Imagine how anxious he would be, day after day, going to the Temple, wondering when he would see Christ. His heart would not have peace until he saw what God had promised. One day Simeon came to the temple, as he always did, but on this day the wait was over. This was the day he met Jesus. Taking Jesus in his arms, he praises God, saying, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30). The deepest longing of his heart was now satisfied. Simeon’s waiting heart could now rest because he had seen the promise of God fulfilled in the face of Jesus Christ.

Rest from the Rush

When the Christmas season orbits around Jesus, like Simeon, we can gaze into his face, take him in our arms, and praise God that he has given us peace. We are free to rest in Christ and not drown in the holiday rush because we receive all that we ever longed for in Christ. Sinners receive salvation, the weary find rest, and the starving receive never-ending bread and water (1 Tim 1:15, Matt 11:28-30, & John 6:35). When Christmas orbits around Christ, we are free to enjoy all that the season offers because we do not depend on those things to do what only Jesus can do.

We can put up lights, invite friends over for hot chocolate, or celebrate with large turkey dinners, or we can grab a blanket and a book and read on our couch. Since we have all, we need in Christ, we are free to say yes or no to all the trimmings of the season. The avalanche does not bury us. In Christ, we are free from the rush and free to enjoy the entire Christmas season.

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