The changing, never-changing Christmas

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, December 24, 2019

By Nathan Rice

It has been a tradition since I was 9 years old. I attend my church every Christmas Eve to hear the story of Jesus’ birth, sing some traditional Christmas hymns, and hold a candle as the organ plays softly in the background. Yesterday would have been the 30th year of this tradition, but things have changed. The sanctuary of the church this Christmas Eve was dark, cold and empty.

A lot of other things changed for me this holiday season. Christmas parties that I once put together for various groups every December did not take place, as the groups disbanded earlier this year. Holiday get-togethers that were long-standing in my life also did not take place. Various other traditions also ended. It has been a strange holiday season, as nothing has been the same. ​

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I know I am not alone in having to adapt to a new holiday season. The popularity of the song “Where are you Christmas?” shows that many people miss the holidays of the past. Traditions, even long-standing ones, come to an end at some point. Christmas, like life, is constantly changing.​

I had to come to grips this year with the fact that my past holiday seasons are gone, and they are not returning. Christmas has changed. Yet, on the other hand, Christmas has not changed. ​

Missed holiday festivities do not change the fact that a few thousand years ago, a woman gave birth in a stable, wrapped her newborn in strips of cloth, and laid Him in an animals’ feeding trough. It hasn’t changed the fact that the Creator of the world entered our world with love and mercy. The King of the universe chose to become one of us.

The reason for Jesus’ birth has not changed. God chose to wrap Himself in human flesh in order to save us. We were hopeless, but hope appeared in the form of an infant. Hope arrived when a star appeared. The birth I celebrate on Christmas Day is a milestone in the greatest rescue story ever told. No amount of lost traditions can remove the hope found in the Baby. ​

The Baby born in Bethlehem was prophesied to be the Prince of Peace. I have been restored to God through the One whose birth I celebrate on Christmas, and that is a peace that cannot be bought and can never be taken. ​

There is a joy that can never be lost that comes from knowing the One who gave Himself to rescue me. This joy is not dependent on parties or holiday traditions, so it’s not lost when those things are removed. ​

The One who was laid in the manger gives a love that cannot be lost. He has promised never to leave me, and He made a way for me to spend every minute, now and throughout eternity, with Him. ​

I will not deny that I missed throwing the holiday parties that I gave for years or that I missed the regular Christmas events that I used to attend. They became traditions that I looked forward to each year, so I am saddened by their demise. These festivities and traditions have been lost, but these losses have allowed me to see the things of Christmas that I can never lose.​

Therefore, I will not be singing “Where are you Christmas?” this year. I’ll be shouting, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!”