At work today, I overheard a lady say that she was so sick of everything, she wished Christmas just wouldn’t come.
I was heartbroken for her.
On the one hand, I totally get it. My to-do list is long, too, and my wallet is starting to wear a little thin as we buy up the last few things we feel we need. I understand the stress of managing family obligations and expectations and the tug of covetous desire warring against the cry of our hearts to throw off the materialism just for a moment.
If I thought all that was what Christmas was, I might wish it would not come also.
In my home are two little boys who have landed squarely on the other end of that spectrum. They are driven crazy with anticipation and hardly unable to stand the waiting. In fact, on Thursday, Caleb simply decided for himself that it was Christmas, and had opened two presents before I was able to make it into the living room and effectively kill all their joy. Now we have a calendar on the refrigerator that we reference almost every hour to see how many more Xs we have to make until we get to the box with the 25 in it.
And I get that, too.
I get the pull of wanting something that will be yours but you aren’t allowed to have yet. I get the desperation for the waiting to be over, to cry out incessantly, “how much longer?,” because I’ve been there, too.
And that is why we MUST have Christmas. It was into a world of busy-ness and work and impossible expectations that Christ came and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The law was a burden the people of Israel could not bear. It told them what to do and how to live and they could never measure up. And then in the 400 years of God’s silence, the Pharisees studied those laws and heaped more and more rules upon the people’s already burdened shoulders. They had to much to do and they couldn’t take it. So they cried out to God. Over and over, the prayers of the righteous could be heard. Righteous and devout men like Simon, who were waiting for the consolation of Israel. Their prayers rose up to the throne of God, crying out “how long, Lord? How much longer?”
And then the waiting was over.
Our Messiah came to us. To end the waiting. To give us relief from our burdens.
So as we look forward to this Christmas, as our calendars point to December 25, and as we turn our longings toward the blessed hope, that second Advent in which we eagerly anticipate the day when Jesus will appear in the sky and call his church home, we can still rejoice with Simon because Christ has already come.
Even with the groaning the earth makes as it waits for redemption. Even as we still do battle with sin. Even as we experience pain and grief and shame in this broken world. Christ has already come, and he is with us now.
We don’t have to wish Christmas away. We don’t have to wait for it. We can experience the hope and joy and peace and love of Christmas today.
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people. a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:30-32