by Dn. Mark Oleynik
Many years ago, I had a conversation with a friend the day after Christmas and he said something which surprised me. He sadly said, “There is nothing more done than Christmas.” This was surprising because he was the most joyful and outgoing person you would ever want to meet—and a real ambassador of Christ. I learned much later that it was at that precise time he was going through a personal tragedy and that year Christmas was quite difficult for him. Fortunately, in time his pain eased and he was back to his old self. But I never forgot his words and what they meant to him that day.
In preparing for the Nativity of our Lord, most parents try to teach their children to be joyful givers. But we all know a child’s focus on Christmas is on “getting the gifts” and it’s probably likewise true for many adults. Most assuredly, parents do their best to provide at least some of items from their child’s wish list not to mention gifts for their spouse, parents, and friends. But when the presents are all unwrapped, the Christmas meal is over, and the house is probably turned upside down from the children and all the guests—do you feel kind of let-down? Do you feel Christmas is done?
In just the few short weeks preceding Christmas emotions are built up to a fever pitch: the shopping and baking, the plans to be made, and the endless commercials for the latest-and-greatest, all mixed in between the innumerable Christmas movies. To top it off, research shows that for many Christmas is one of the saddest times of the year. Not only sad memories of those who are no longer with them—but often the tragedies witnessed both in their families and in the world at large provide stark contrast to joy of the season. So, given the combination of too much emotion, too much excitement, too much to eat and to drink, and just the general chaos of the season…is it any wonder you might feel a slight letdown?
Certainly you and your family will receive wished-for presents, but will you receive the real gift at Christmas—the gift of Christ Himself? His peace, and joy, and presence in whom we find the only lasting source of Life. The true gift giver on this and every day is Christ, but you must include Him on your Christmas list—invite Him to be the most important part of your life and your family’s life. Amidst all of the worship and singing of our grace and our customs, plan to take personal and family time and ask the Savior, “Lord, come and dwell with my family and me this day. Be by our side so that we may know and walk with you throughout all our days.”
If you have eyes to see it, the world is flooded with His joy. If you have the heart to receive it, your life will be touched by His. And if you have faith to live it, He will be with you all your days, and all your hours. For behold, truly we all have been given good news of great joy – for unto us, if we will receive Him, is born into our hearts Christ the Savior. And if we will receive this gift for Christmas, all our days will be blessed.
So what do you really want to receive this Christmas? What will you allow God to give you this Christmas? Will it really be the gift of Himself—or in all the busyness of the season will you not take the time and really ask Him.
It’s up to you. At the end of it all, Christmas can just be “done” … or it can be done rightly.
Angels Appearing this Month
Plan to stay after the liturgy on Sunday, December 18 for the annual retelling of the story of Christ’s birth by our Church School. Our students will once again present a living icon based on the Nativity scriptures, complete with angels, shepherds, wise men, and assorted animals. You will not want to miss it!