I live in an area that is impacted by every season of the year. In the spring, the rains come, the flowers erupt and the trees turn bright green. All too quickly, summer arrives and it gets hot and humid, requiring air conditioning to survive. Then, autumn arrives to cool the temperature down, the flowers fade and the leaves turn beautiful colors of orange, yellow, and rust. Finally, we experience winter. The leaves are all on the ground, freezing temperatures occasionally occur, and even a few inches of snow might fall. Each season brings a measure of joy.
Now, I know some of you have totally different realities based on the climate where you live. You may not know the seasons quite as we enjoy. However, the Christmas season, a season to celebrate Christ’s birth, is hopefully a season that we can all agree on. A Christ-filled Christmas always promotes joy, peace, and hope.
As a child, Christmas was a special time for our family. I grew up in a loving environment with parents and siblings who loved me, cared for me, and gave gifts on Christmas day. I have always loved and enjoyed the Christmas season. I love Christmas music. In fact, I start listening to it the day after Thanksgiving. Libby and I enjoy shopping for gifts for our 3 children, our sons-in-law, our daughter-in-law, and our 9 grandchildren. I like putting the Christmas decorations up around our home and I especially enjoy the nativities that we have collected from around the world. This is an amazing season for the family to enjoy one another.
Not too long ago I was with some of our Teen Challenge students who talked of the Christmas season as one of the most difficult seasons of the year for them. They spoke of growing up with alcoholic parents who spent all their money on alcohol, drugs, and wild living. They might have had a Christmas tree, but the gifts, if any, were minimal, and the season was filled with drunkenness, fighting, and strife. So many Teen Challenge students talk about this season as a season of painful memories. One girl said, “I cannot remember any Christmas that I was sober. Last Christmas, while I was drunk, a group of men gang-raped me and I could do nothing to stop them. Christmas has always been a sad time for me.”
When Christ is not a part of Christmas, there is often opportunity for disappointments, hurt, and pain. People can be so cruel to one another. Alcohol is utilized to mask the painful memories, but it only extends the hurt for the one drinking and those around them.
What about you? How do you face this time of the year? Is this a Season of Hope for you, or do you have memories similar to our TC students? Now that Christ has come into your life, what are you doing to change your behavior and/or customs during this season to leave good memories with your family?
You can put Hope into this season! You can make a difference with your life and impact the lives of your family and those watching you.
I love reading the story of the birth of Jesus to my kids and grandkids at Christmas. I like Matthew’s detailed description of the birth of Christ. We read of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the escape to Egypt and the return to Nazareth. We read about prophecy being fulfilled when Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. A humble, quiet place to be born as a king. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was born to bring freedom from sin to all mankind.
This is a story of hope! Jesus made a way by His birth and death for you and me to have hope. We have the hope of life beyond the grave, and his birth represents this truth. This is the season of Hope, and may I say to you, “Have a little hope.” God has everything under control. God loves you and He loves me. He wants the Christmas season to be one that is filled with Hope for all.
As you head into Christmas, will you take the time to express the love of Christ to others? Will you extend hope to others? Will you slow down enough to affirm those around you?
This season is not about gifts other than the gift of Jesus to this world.
Whether you celebrate the holiday we call Christmas or not, Libby and I, along with the staff of Global Teen Challenge, want to wish you and your family a wonderful Christ-filled season. Please know we pray for you and that you are loved. Take time to pause, love your family, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with us.
Jerry Nance PhD
Global Teen Challenge
P.S. One of the greatest gifts I have ever received is the gift of words – words of affirmation. One year, Libby and I wrote letters to each of our children and called them “gifts of words”. We let our kids know what we saw in them and affirmed the best characteristics in them. Those letters are still precious to our kids today.
I want to challenge you to do the same this year. Would you take some time and write words of affirmation to your loved ones? Take a few minutes and write a letter to your wife or husband, son or daughter, to tell them what they mean to you and affirm them. Note the special parts of their lives, talents, and gifts you see in them that are making a difference in our world.
“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4 NLT) May our words be as refreshing as a bubbling brook.