Christmas past were times of merriment and gathering with friends and family. We never once thought about the size of groups or keeping our distance from those we loved. In fact, the bigger the gatherings the better! A lot has changed in a year. Restrictions have prevented Rising Above participants from going home to be with family and friends. Many participants are clean for the first time in a long time and wished to go home and enjoy the company of loved ones with a clear and sober mind. This Christmas provided many letdowns for a lot of people around the world.
As believers, we celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Jesus Christ. Over time, Christmas has evolved into a joyous celebration that leaves your house glitter-bombed and bellies overstuffed. This Christmas was like an awkwardly wrapped gift presented in underwhelming brown paper under a Charlie Brown tree. No bow. No string. No garland. No frills. It reminds me of when Jesus was born. How simple that night must have been. Jesus wasn't born in a hospital with a crew of nurses coaching Mary. Joseph didn't have the option of buying his baby boy a stuffy from the hospital giftshop. Mary and Joseph didn't prepare a nursery with gender specific colors and mindfully purchased baby essentials. He was born in a livestock stable and placed in a straw filled trough (manger). How dark that night must have been with stars scattered across the night sky. How Jesus' first noises must have pierced through the darkness and shook the world announcing the birth of the Son of God. And by one star, 3 strangers traveled through the darkness to great the Immanuel (God with us). I imagine goats, sheep, and a cow witnessing this Holy event and Mary wrapping Jesus with the only thing she had - cloth. Did she have to tear them from her own clothes? Maybe Joseph tore a piece off his. Either way, this night was incredibly no-frills to the point that Jesus was born in a place where they kept livestock. But God provided their every need because that's what God does for those who love him. He takes care of them.
This Christmas has been a no-frills Christmas. But it has drawn us back to the reason why we celebrate this time of year. It was never about the gifts, the gatherings, or the elaborate meals. It was about a sweet baby boy born in a stable who would grow up to save humanity. It was about God who so loved the world that he gave his only son so that those who love and believe in him would find everlasting life.
This season seemed hopeless for many, many people. But if one shifts their focus to God, that's where they will find their hope.