with Bob Condly

A Negative Nativity?

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Feeling excited about Christmas? Or a little somber? If so, you’re not alone. Lots of people battle despair and depression around this time.

Why is that?

Writing for Psychology Today, Ray Williams lists several reasons:

  • Rebellion against excessive commercialization
  • Comparing oneself with others
  • Pressure to spend money you don’t have
  • Expected attendance at undesired social gatherings
  • Loneliness and loss

Which of these have you battled? How many have you observed in your friends, relatives, or co-workers?

Some people react by disparaging the holiday. To borrow a phrase from Spiro Agnew, these “nattering nabobs of negativism” criticize the value of Christmas. Think Scrooge, Old Man Potter, and the Grinch.

And King Solomon.

Solomon?

Didn’t he live centuries before the birth of Christ? Yes, but skim the book of Ecclesiastes and you’ll conclude–this is one gloomy Gus!  

“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’ . . . 14I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14

Not exactly Yuletide sentiments!

The virtues of Christmas–hope, warmth, and generosity–can alleviate meaninglessness and depression. But Solomon points to a problem that the holiday cannot solve.

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning.” – Ecclesiastes 7:8

Jesus’ birthday, while celebratory, was never intended to bear the expectations some folks place on it. A wonderful event, Christmas is but the start of a larger and more magnificent story. And as Solomon stressed, the end is more important.

Through Christmas, we embark on a journey toward the goal of the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

So you needn’t succumb to seasonal sadness. True, in some respects, Christmas is under attack in America; “Happy Holidays” has replaced “Merry Christmas!”

But regardless of what our culture permits or forbids, we can rejoice in the gift of God’s Son.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.’” – Luke 2:10-11

The purpose of Christmas? That Jesus would become your Lord and your Savior.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

A place in the Father’s family; that’s the blessing Christ’s birth makes possible for you.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” – Galatians 4:4-5

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By Bob Condly
with Bob Condly

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