Today’s Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7

This week, as I was frantically driving to church and making an Advent to-do list, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” came on the radio. It’s one of my favorite Christmas songs, but that day, it caused a little bit of anxiety as I found myself wondering if it would feel like Christmas this year. You see, Christmas comes every year on the calendar, but I’ve found that it doesn’t come every year in my heart. Sometimes, I feel Christmas… and sometimes it feels like I force it. I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t always experience that exciting “Christmas” feeling. Sometimes life gets in the way and our hearts just can’t make it to that place of celebration and joy.

When this happens to me, I have a tendency to feel disappointed or let down, like I’m doing something wrong. Yet as I think back to that first Christmas, I doubt that Mary and Joseph were thrilled with their circumstances. They were far from home, far from comfort, when Mary went into labor. Surely that hadn’t been their hope. The first Christmas full of discomfort and labor pains and exhaustion and change. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to some of those things as I think about those years when I have struggled to feel Christmas. In reflecting on our own struggles to experience the excitement of Christmas, author Dan Schaeffer writes, “Ironically, in those times when it least feels like Christmas, it might be most like Christmas. Maybe hope, in the midst of strange, uncomfortable, and confusing circumstances, is the closest we can get to the true and original spirit of Christmas.”

I don’t know whether you’ll feel the Christmas spirit this year. I don’t know whether I’ll feel it or not either. But the good news is that God is present with us regardless. Christ is entering the world in the midst of our struggles and our grief. Christmas is coming anyway!