We can’t really find the meaning of Christmas -- or even the meaning of life for that matter-- at Target or Nordstrom or Wal-Mart, or any other store. God knows we try, though, don’t we? The visible world does give us what it can though, entertainment, comfort, pleasure, cool stuff; it anesthetizes us for a while – with lots of suffering mixed in -- and that’s about it. But this is all the world has to offer. It is unable to give us real meaning, because at heart we are eternal beings in a temporal world, and only Jesus can fill our hearts, not stuff.
The world can’t offer us eternal life. It can’t offer us answers to the deepest questions of our hearts. Christmas is really such a great holiday (“holiday” is short for “holy day”!). I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t celebrate it, because, like Thanksgiving, it does point to what matters in our lives: the people we love and those who love us. Most importantly, it points to our faith, the gift of eternal life. That’s what presents and cards and the like represent. Most of us want to be with people we love today; if they are far away, we miss them; if they have passed away, we grieve for them. Of course, sometimes even the ones that irritate us are with us today, but that’s part of life too! Without these people, how on earth would we learn to love?
We do have another family that you belong to. Jesus is inviting you into his own family and to a place at his table. Christmas is all about Jesus’ invitation to join him as a part of his family and hopefully to be a bigger part of our church family right here.
There is an old saying that I think applies to Christmas: it is both an invitation and a warning: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it! If your Christmas is only about presents and parties, you may get what you want, but it won’t be enough, because that’s not what the real Christmas is actually all about. Stuff gets old and wears out. But if you want a deeper relationship with Jesus, now is the time to begin again. Now is the time to begin to pray every day again. Now is the time to think about returning to Church if you have been away. Now is the time to ask yourself, “What is my life about and where am I going? Who or what really is the goal of my life?”
Jesus is like a present under the tree that often goes unopened. It is a small package, but opening it can bring you to the real meaning of life when all the presents are long forgotten and the tree is in the dumpster. So, do be careful what you wish for in life; take care to watch where you are headed because you just may get there.