In this month’s message of inspiration, Rev. B. De Neice Welch, Ph.D., senior pastor of Bidwell Presbyterian Church, explains how the joy of this holiday season will be different.
Photo courtesy of Rev. B. De Neice Welch, Ph. D.
We often fantasize about holiday celebrations. We think of gathering our families, seeing loved ones, and expressing love through gifts, good food, and music. Some of us include times of worship, using our faith to become kinder, more generous, and more concerned about those who are less fortunate. We imagine snow-covered roofs, lights throughout the city, and peace and goodwill for all.
And yet, the first Christmas was starkly different. The city was filled with strangers: people who traveled from their homes to register for the census, travelers who did not know each other, and a young pregnant couple that could not find a place to stay. The government was oppressive to its citizens and strange men from the East appeared looking for a different king than the one who currently occupied the throne. There was fear, anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty in the land. The threat of a new king caused the current king to issue a decree for all male children under the age of two to be murdered. Parents were in mourning and the hope of freedom from tyranny was buried alongside their precious babies.
The first Christmas was much like our world today, signaling that history indeed repeats itself. The true meaning of Christmas, however, is embedded in the truth of the story rather than the idyllic Christmas we keep trying to create. A breakthrough came in the midst of this tense situation: Hope arrived in the cry of a newborn. Peace came to shepherds in a field working the midnight shift. Music came to the city through a chorus of angels. Truth came to comfort those who lost much. Love came to show a brighter future. Power came to show the evil king a new way to rule had arrived.
It feels like this season will be difficult to celebrate, but we can learn much from the first holiday. Rather than looking at what we do not have and cannot do, let’s focus on those things that offer us hope, joy, love, peace, and power. Let’s turn our attention to the things that can break through our sadness. Hope assures us that how things are right now is not how they will always be. Love is not only to be received but also given away. There are many who would like to receive a gift of love. Peace can be found as we look forward to vaccines that will arrive soon. The new administration will surely be installed soon. Joy can be found as we let go of 2020 and welcome 2021. Power can be experienced as we excitedly make decisions about our future.
The joy of this season will be different. Maybe it’s time for us to work from the truth and appreciate what we have: finding joy that exists in our present and our hope for the future. The gift of this season could be letting our minds see the breakthroughs rather than trying to create a holiday that never measures up to our commercialized creations.
Rev. B. De Neice Welch, Ph.D. is the senior pastor of Bidwell Presbyterian Church.