Is it still Christmas if I don’t feel merry?

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The season of Christmas is a magnet for memories — the good ones and the not so good ones. It’s not hard to recall the wonderful Christmases of years past. The ones with family gathered, loved ones around the tree and around the table. But Christmas can also bring up memories with different emotions. Perhaps we recall the bitter-sweet memories of past Christmases with loved ones no longer with us. Perhaps we are reminded of family situations that don’t match up to the images that flood the media this time of year. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without a loved one.

At Christmas time we can feel lots of emotions that aren’t ‘merry.’ Many churches have adopted services to recognize this and create room for the myriad of emotions of the season. Sometimes called ‘Longest Night’ or ‘Blue Christmas,’ these are times to recognize that for many people this is not a season of joy and hope.

If this is your experience this Christmas, please know that your feelings are completely valid. Be who you are and where you are this Christmas. If this is a time of grief, a time of sorrow, allow yourself the room to feel what you feel. Those of us in the church ‘see’ you and understand. If you know someone who is grieving during this time, do what you can to validate those feelings and recognize that ‘merry’ isn’t the only way people experience Christmas. 

It is important to remember that at Christmas God meets us in our humanity- in the joy, the hope, the sorrow and the pain. Thanks be to God.


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Joy to the World

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Christmas is a royal visit, of a sort. 

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her king.”  

Royal visits are not uncommon in our world. I heard years ago about one of Queen Elizabeth II’s visits to the Unites States. She brought with her 4,000 pounds of luggage, two outfits for every occasion, 40 pints of blood plasma, a white kid-leather toilet seat cover, her own hairdresser, two valets and a host of other attendants. The cost of this royal visit? 20 million dollars. 

The birth of king Jesus was different. Radically different. Luggage: none; outfits: none, plasma: just the normal amount. Hairdressers, no; valets: no.  

So… was it a royal visit or not?  

 Maybe the humble birth was just a ruse. Maybe all that humility was just a show. Maybe if we would pull back those swaddling clothes we’d see the real Jesus, we’d see the royal purple after all, the ‘S’ on his chest.

But that isn’t how the story goes.

Scratch the surface of baby Jesus and you get a scratched baby Jesus. There is no hidden identity. Jesus was a poor Jewish peasant, born in humble circumstances. And that is who he was. Sure, on some level, Jesus was indeed king  but the whole thing is turned on its head because we are completely unfamiliar with this kind of king

Jesus was a king unlike any king this world has ever known. 

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul quoted Jesus to say, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

This king we celebrate is not a king of royalty or of power or of riches. Rather, this is a king of love and of service and of self-sacrifice. 

“He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love, and wonders of is love.”

Joy to the world, indeed. Amen.

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I’m thankful for Northside Drive Baptist Church.
I’m thankful for my loving wife, Heather.
I’m thankful for my wonderful- each in their own unique way- kids.
I’m thankful for a church family that loves me and loves my family.
I’m thankful for the ability to travel back and forth from church to my family.
I’m thankful for church members that brought me chicken soup when I was sick.
I’m thankful for those who gather on Wednesday mornings to wrestle together with the Bible.
I’m thankful for times of drinking beer and sharing our stories.
I’m thankful for the (lifetime) supply of toilet paper that I received when I moved to Atlanta.
I’m thankful for the moments of worship, prayer and service that we share together.
I’m thankful for you.


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