We’ve reached the end of another holiday season, the end of another year, and also the end of a decade. Unless you’re an unreformed Grinch or Scrooge, you probably don’t want the holidays to end anymore than I do. I’m always sad when December 26 rolls around and every store and radio station packs away the Christmas stuff for another year. As I shared about with my devotion readers this week, Christmas is a beginning, not an end, so for everything to just end so abruptly, it’s sad and not a real reflection on the Reason for the Season.
Today I want to share one last thought on Christmas, and it’s also something that will be relevant as we move into the new year and decade. We can learn a lot from the Christmas story, about God, about how God interacts with us, about God’s plan for the world, about love, and about our fellow humans. The Biblical Christmas story is an intimate look into the lives of 4 key players and several other supporting characters, and we get to see the emotions they work through and their experiences and reactions to how everything goes down and the birth of Jesus. It’s reassuring to know that God has a plan for everyone, that He’s willing to share some reassuring and encouraging words when we’re unsure of the situation (as we saw with Joseph and the dream he had), God wants everyone to be part of the celebrations from the wisest to the average joes, and something very small can really bring hope.
But something that we don’t talk about much with regard to the Christmas story is about courage. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah were all fully human, and while they were all likely people of faith (we know Zechariah was), the story still tells of the doubt and confusion that these four faced when the angel first came to each of them. They knew that despite it being God’s plan, other people wouldn’t necessarily understand or agree with their choices to accept the babies and that they would always have to accept that as much as the babies were theirs, they were first and foremost God’s. It took courage to step up and say yes to the angel and welcome in those babies.
If the last decade has been rough for you, I can understand why you might be looking at the new one ahead with trepidation, although for the same reason you may be looking at it with excitement. Those mixed emotions are probably exactly what the people of the First Christmas experienced. Just like them we’ve each got the choice to find our courage and move into the new year and decade excited that Jesus has come and is part of our lives, or focus on something more negative. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather move into the new year with a courageous stride than be pulled kicking and screaming over the line. If you’re not sure what to make of or do about the year ahead, maybe you want to focus on living a courageous year.
“”Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”” Deuteronomy 31:8