This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, Dec 21, 2020
Well here we are, the Big Week. We are just days away from the celebration of Christmas. I have to be honest with you, right now I feel so detached from the fact that Christmas is just days away that last Sunday, I announced the wrong date for our Christmas Eve services to my church family. I don’t feel in any way like Christmas. Partly, because I am fulfilling my lifelong aspiration of becoming a cantankerous old man, but also because the world doesn’t seem like it is worth celebrating anymore. COVID kept me away from home for Thanksgiving and it seems likely that it is going to do the same thing for Christmas.
So I have been considering all day what is happening this week. What is really the point? I have all the material possessions in life I could ever want, so there really aren’t any gifts I am looking forward to. That might also have to do with the fact that I wasn’t all that good this year and have been informed by multiple people that I am not on the good list. I suppose I had that coming. In addition to that, I have plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep – what more could this holiday bring that I don’t already have?
There is just one thing that I don’t seem to have. Christmas is a renewal of hope. Please don’t hear that sentence as the cliché it sounds like, hear it as a declaration. Christmas is a very special time of year; it is a time to remind ourselves what the Good Lord went through to reach us where we are. I fully admit that Easter is a great blessing, but there is no Easter without Christmas. Today, we have abundant life in full connection with the Lord. That abundant life is not available without Christmas because if there is no Baby in the manger, then there is no presence of God. It is truly that simple. With God, we need no masks, have no social distancing and require no vaccines. What Jesus proves is that God is interested in us so much so that He came to live in connection to us. Of all of the gifts of the Christmas season, this one is the absolute best.
I know that I am not the only one who is longing for what Christmas was when I was younger. I can remember the excitement of the Star Wars and GI Joe toys that I love so much (yes, that is love in the current tense in that I still love them). I remember playing with them all Christmas afternoon and on days out of school. I built bases for them in the snowdrifts in our back yard and used my superior firepower to destroy all of my sister’s Care Bears. They honestly did not stand a chance.
I don’t feel that way about Christmas anymore. But the truth we celebrate for Christmas is just as real today as it has ever been in any of my 45 Christmases. Yes, I may not be as excited about any of the traditions or the presents, but I know that I believe in and serve a very real Savior whose birth we celebrate every year.
I pray there is a big present under a Christmas tree for you and that it has something wonderful in it. I hope you enjoy and treasure it for years to come. At the same time, I am much more interested in your focus on purpose of the celebration, which I hope you never lose. Without remembering the birth of Jesus, we are just having fun. That is not bad until fun becomes the entire point. I want you to be inspired with hope that will sustain you until I get the chance to write articles about Easter during the season of Lent.
I could count as one of my favorite gifts this year the fact that I have gotten to be one of you for the past 2 ½ years. Even though you take your sports a little too seriously and I find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone in this town has ever passed a driver’s ed course, I still love all of you very much and I am humbled and honored to be a pastor in your wonderful community. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases, even if you aren’t exactly feeling the excitement this year. Please make every effort to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.