How I Found the Christmas Spirit, Again

Last week, while I sat at the piano practicing music for church, I was already getting tired of Christmas.
Actually, it’s not Christmas, itself, but the people who make every holiday season such a battlefield.

I’ve been hearing news stories from angry people about the color of Santa’s skin. Apparently, that’s worth fighting about. And there are people who loudly complain about the holiday because they want to discredit Christianity, not realizing that their complaints are exactly what makes it hard to enjoy this time of year. Instead of wishing for peace on earth, it seems like everyone around me is trying to find a reason to gripe at someone.

Then, the band started the next song. I played the notes like I was supposed to and focused on the tempo and the music. Normally, I don’t notice the lyrics while I’m just playing an instrument, but one line of the song stood out, as it always does:

“In His name, all oppression shall cease.”

This is what Christmas is all about. In a dirty barn there was a child born, a child named Jesus who was the Son of God. And in His name, all oppression shall cease. All oppression.

Look at what’s burdening our terrible world. Poverty. Criminal warlords. Child soldiers dying for corrupt leaders. In our hearts we all know that these things are wrong, and at Christmas time we remember that it will pass away while working to solve the problem as well as we can on our own.

What about our own lives – what oppresses you? Physical pain? Bills? Loneliness? Bullies? It’s not going to go on forever.

What about me? I wonder if I’m living up to my potential after the mistakes I’ve made. I can’t seem to fix all of the problems around me. Issues from my past still haunt me. Our culture is divided by people who look for excuses to say hateful things about each other, and it makes me feel useless that I can only stand by and watch. I am told that I am “what’s wrong with the world” because I refuse to take sides and be spiteful to people I disagree with. I’m getting used to the idea of spending my life being hated by people on both sides of every debate. But in His name, all oppression shall cease.

This is why Christmas matters. I love giving presents to my family, drinking cider, and decorating with greenery, but that stuff is just for fun. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) The real miracle is remembering that our broken world will be redeemed.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord his God…
…who executes justice for the oppressed,

who gives food to the hungry. 

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. -Psalm 146

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