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- Mailing Address: 16755 Southwest Freeway Sugar Land, TX 77479
Does it feel like Christmas yet? For many of us, family traditions surrounding the holidays are what make the season feel like Christmas. Human beings love doing things the way we’ve done them before. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Putting the decorations in the same places every year, eating the same foods, seeing the same folks can all serve as a wonderful way to knit a family together and emphasize their collective values. My family is adjusting to the newness of our first holiday season here in Sugar Land by figuring out how to keep our holiday traditions alive in a new place. Each night we gather for an advent devotional with a book we’ve used before. That continuity is what helps this season feel like Christmas for us.
Traditions alone do not make Christmas. For one thing, the very best of our traditions can be undone by life’s circumstances. Things like moves and marriages, not to mention flooded houses, can alter the best of our traditions. Alyson’s sister likes to tell the story of how my coming into their family’s life thoroughly messed up their Christmas celebrations. Growing up, after all the festivities of Christmas Eve, Alyson and Lindsey would crawl into bed together and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work now that Alyson and I were married. They tried reading it to one another over the phone, but like every family who’s ever had to adjust one of their cherished traditions, they lamented, “It’s just not the same.”
Truth be told, no tradition lasts forever. This year, families in our church are having to change treasured traditions because of job loss, illness, kids growing up and moving away, divorce, death, and more. Perhaps, your family is one of them. You have my prayers. Also, I want to share with you a word of encouragement. Don’t give up on Christmas. Christmas is more than our feelings about the season. Christmas is primarily about God sending his light into our darkness.
Henri Nouwen puts it this way, “Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”
Traditions can be wonderful ways to celebrate the seasons, but we do not make the season with our traditions. Christmas comes because God shows up in unexpected places. If God showed up in a barn in Bethlehem, he can show up in your life today. So take heart. If circumstances beyond your control have this Christmas season feeling less than festive, don’t despair. The God who showed up as a babe in the manger is still on the move. When he shows up, it’s like Christmas every time.
I hope you’ll join us this Sunday as we watch once more for God to show up by turning our attention to the stories from that first Christmas, and how that still brings us hope today.
Grace and peace,