As we get closer to Christmas day, it’s hard to believe how quickly our time has passed. It’s only a week from Christmas and every year this holiday seems to sneak up on us more quickly than the last.

I’ve heard that life is like a roll of toilet paper... it goes a lot faster the closer you come to the end of it, perhaps it’s the same way with Christmas. 

Think back to Halloween, when Christmas seemed so far away and all of the red and green that was being put up in the stores upset you because it was displayed so early. Now that seems like it was just a few days ago, and yet here we are knocking on Christmas’ door.

Christmas holds lots of different meanings for everyone. For some it’s getting to spend time with family who they don’t get the chance to see very often. For others, it’s a chance to cook to their heart’s content, while having plenty of people around to taste test all of their new dietary inventions. Still for others, it can be a hard time of remembrances of times that were much better than these. 

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, the first holiday season can really stir up a lot of the emotions that you thought you had fought through. These people are the ones who truly need the basic, fundamental facts about Christmas. Christmas is basically a holiday focused on hope. The hope of the world. 

The first Christmas, the world heard the cries of a new born baby that brought hope to earth for the first time in 400 years. Heaven had been silent, and when you don’t have open communication with your Creator, then you have no hope. With the birth of Jesus, hope was found. 

Now, when we go through holidays without family members who have passed away, if they knew Hope, then we also have hope that we will see them again. 

When we have to go through Christmas seasons watching family members or friends deal with addictions in their lives, we can share our hope with them, and know that if they accept it, they too can have this hope that lives in us.

Christmas is about so much more than just the presents, the food and the people. It has to get personal, it has to get into your heart. It has to come down to your own hope. 

If you don’t know hope, then you can’t fully enjoy the holiday season. To experience your Christmas to the fullest extent, then you have to have Christ in the center. Without the child of Christmas, without the hope of Christmas, you are left with nothing more than an overly commercialized Friday morning.

If you feel empty when the last gift is open, then you’re missing the point. You’re lacking the hope that I am talking about in this column. 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to see my daughters’ faces aglow as they run into the living room to get their presents on Christmas morning. I also love to see faces light up as they open gifts at family gatherings. There is a part of me that comes alive when we are sipping hot cocoa on the couch and watching Christmas movies. There is nothing wrong with falling in love with the Christmas season, but don’t put all of your joy in this festive season and miss out on the reason for the season.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in getting the floors cleaned for the next party, checking off your gift list for the family and setting the stove to the proper temperature for your casserole  that we completely forget why we do it. 

Why do you celebrate Christmas? If it’s just to get together with friends and family, you can do that on Thanksgiving. 

If it’s just for gifts, you can do that on birthdays. 

But if it is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the moment that true hope first touched earth, then you’re on the right track.

Enjoy making gingerbread houses with your kids. Write your most expressive and encouraging messages in each Christmas greetings card. Floor your co-workers with your mom’s special recipe for Christmas cookies. But when the dust settles and you’re lying in your bed on Christmas Eve night, remember why it matters. Remember what makes this holiday have purpose and meaning.

As you awake on Christmas morning, before the hustle to the tree to rip open gifts that were carefully wrapped weeks ago, sit on the bed with your kids and spouse and read from the Bible, begin around Luke chapter two. Read about Mary’s excitement and the shepherd’s awe. Read about the king’s fear and the wise men’s obedience. Read about forgiveness and grace. Read about hope. 

Read the true story of hope to your family. Point them away from the tree and gifts for just a moment and focus all of your thoughts on the God who brought us hope for our lifetime. 

It will do you no good to buy your children every gift they ask for this Christmas but to never offer them the Hope of the world. Those gifts will not last a lifetime and they surely won’t last an eternity. But if you lead them to the manger, if you lead them to Christ, then you will be giving them a gift that will last them throughout eternity, and may one day be passed down to your grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Keep your focus on hope this Christmas. Share this hope with those around you. 

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