The Onslaught of Christmas Stress

So it’s Christmas (almost!). That time of year when parental stress peaks temporarily; family conflicts fly off the handle; the busyness of consumerism feels like it will drown us!

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Crazy consumer Christmas!

We cannot deny that for most people the time of glad tidings and joy is more like a giant tidal wave of tasks!  This seems to be the accepted norm of this time of year – “we’ve just got to keep going until Christmas and then we can flop” becomes our mantra.

But is this the way Christmas is meant to be?

As a I look at the original Christmas story there is definitely a lot to be stressed about.

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Couldn’t have been an easy first Christmas

Mary is travelling on a donkey! Joseph has been considering a silent divorce. They have no hotel booked – I mean, how negligent is that! There’s no hospital to give birth in – the best they can find is a stable! They are miles from their families and support structures (now that’s something many of us can identify with in todays’ working market!!). Stress, stress, stress.

Yet despite this they manage. They manage to get digs for the night. They manage to have a healthy birth in the stable. They are not short of helpful visitors. They cope.

Sometimes you just need to keep on going and you’ll find that you actually can cope.

For Joseph and Mary their coping mechanism was found in God. They found faith in what he told them, and surprisingly it did all work out. Maybe not as they intended. Maybe not as nice as they wanted. But it did all work out in the end.

Keep on Keeping on simply because…you can”

Perhaps like me, you just need to keep on keeping on. Perhaps we do need to just keep going until we can have the rest that Christmas provides us with. I’m looking forward to spending days with my wife and kids where we can just BE. Days with close friends to just laugh, and eat and drink and be fun!

Whatever you are facing I trust that you will keep on going. Keep going because you can. Keep going because somehow, in it all, you will grow stronger in life and faith.

Taking Christmas into the wilderness of the margins

One of the things I love about the best story in the world (that would be the Christmas story 😃) is that it’s the outsiders who are led to The Christ Child:

– smelly, rough, poor shepherds

– foreign wise guys

– Simon and Anna in the temple (the old crazies of the town!!)

Jesus kept up the trend during his life by befriending and calling the swindlers and the prostitute; the demonised and the destitute; you; me.

His love and acceptance reached out into the margins of society (and hearts) to lead us into the security, belonging and acceptance of his great love.

This is the heart of the Christmas story

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The Christmas story was never meant to be a ‘stand-alone-narrative – from before it began there was already a meta-narrative of a God who ardently and faithfully was reaching down into the pit of life and rescuing humanity. For example:

  • Joseph is literally saved from a pit and a prison to become ‘prime minister’ of Egypt.
  • Moses the murderer becomes Moses the national rescuer
  • God uses Esther saves the Jews (who were being marginalised and persecuted at the time) from mass Genocide
  • David the adulterer is called ‘a man after God’s own heart (his Psalm 51 shows the depth of his repentance as he turns towards God)

The heart of the Christmas story is in fact the heart of what the Bible calls ‘the Gospel’ – it’s the good news that God is there for the last, least and lost. He is gently pursuing the maimed, the miniscule and the marginalised with grace-filled love, compassion and saving grace.

This is the heart of the Christmas story

This story continues here today:

Christ loves the homeless person and gives them a home in his heart. God uses an army of homelessness volunteers to do this – and not only Christian folks! – I love the work done by the Harrogate Homeless Project in my town! – their No Second Night Out project is innovative and highly responsive to local homeless needs. Other projects near me who are faithfully serving homeless needs of the community are LifeLine Harrogate and Ripon YMCA – without these charities many would find life unbearable – with love and practical support life has the wonderful spark of hope!

With Love and practical support life has the wonderful spark of hope

Christ loves those who are lonely, isolated, and marginalised.

Will we help His story continue today, tomorrow and always?