It is 13 days until Christmas Day, and we are supposed to feel Christmasy, but it is not always easy. The year has had a series of difficult challenges. The international scene has new and old problems. Trying to comply with what our culture seems to demand for this season is close to impossible. The problem is with a culture shaped by businesses that depend on us wanting to celebrate and spend money.
At the time Jesus was born, the Romans had power over all of Palestine and used that power to extract wealth to support the empire. Herod, a puppet ruler for the Romans, added his own demands and arbitrary actions to further burden the people. Then the religious leaders placed another burden on them and cooperated with the Romans and Herodians in encouraging the ordinary people to feel powerless and unimportant. Working people (labourers and tradesmen) faced economic, political and religious challenges daily. As being on major trading and travel routes, those who lived in cities would also have faced challenges from epidemics and the general prevalence of various diseases.
Most people then would not have felt very Christmasy either. So, we are not and were not alone if we do not easily get into the jolly mood promoted at this time of year. Instead of jolliness and happiness, maybe what we need to seek are feelings of connection and hopefulness. The adult Jesus spoke of a loving God who works for our good. It is in making time in our minds, lives, and hearts for developing our connection to God that we can make it easier to have hope for whatever is or is not happening in our lives. In growing that hope, we make it easier to find peace inside of ourselves and become able to share that with others.
As we improve our connections with others, our experiences from those connections naturally bring moments of joy into our lives, though not jolliness. But then, we are not Frosty the Snowman.
So do not worry about what our culture says we should be, ought to be feeling, or how we should be acting. Be true to yourself, true to what is happening in your world, always remembering that this too, whatever the ‘this’ may be, shall pass. Tomorrow will not be the same as today. The birth of Jesus is celebrated as a cause for hope and joy, not a reason to be jolly or immune to the pain that may be in your life. Thanks be to God.