Anne McKay Garris wrote this Christmas article when she and her husband Berle owned the Beach Views. She has given permission to share it with the readers of the Clearwater Gazette.
Every year you read more about the people who are depressed by the Christmas season, for various reasons. This year there was even a seminar for people depressed by Christmas. What a sad thought, that a celebration, which began with “Joy to the world” has become a source of depression for some. It has to do, I think, with the lost meaning of Christmas. If what Christmas means to you is a family gathering and your family isn’t together this year, how can you celebrate? If Christmas means getting in touch with old friends and you’ve lost someone special, it takes a lot of the joy out of the season. If it means lots of good eats and the doctor has you on a diet…well, you see what I mean.
Maybe we need to get back to how it all started! One of the names given to Jesus Christ by the prophets was “Emmanuel”, which means “God With Us” and, if you get back to the essence of it, that’s what we really, started out with at Christmas.
Think about it! All the love and kindness and goodwill that surround us this time of year…all the happy celebration and gift giving and parties began all those years ago when the angels told a group of shepherds they had reason to rejoice because God loved them with an unquenchable love.
Christmas was the beginning of “God With Us”…not waiting for us in church, not hovering over us in the sky…but with us…in the car as we drive, at the office, in the kitchen, before the T.V., in the motel room on vacation…not criticizing and blaming and shaming us, but loving, comforting and enabling us to be more loving, more kind, more patient and understanding. Perhaps the most genuine Christmas carol is not the perfectly lovely “Silent Night, Holy Night” but the old swinging chorus, which goes, “No never alone, alone, no never alone. He promises never to leave us. Never to leave us alone!”
Many of us cannot afford bountiful Christmases with a feast to spread and gifts for all or even funds to help the poor. Many of us are away from family and friends on Christmas and miss the fellowship. Others have lost a loved one recently and see no “merry” on the horizon, but “God With Us” is a meaning of Christmas that can be cause for celebration for everyone, every year (or for that matter, every day) no matter what the circumstances. The feasting, the fellowship, the caring, the peace, the joy, are extras.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and be with him...in his mind…in his heart…in his spirit”. He doesn’t say, “If you go to the right church, or, if you pray the right prayer, or if you live a good life”. All He asks is that we invite Him into our lives because, in all His power and majesty, He still waits humbly for an invitation. With God Himself as friend, companion, guide and comforter, you can have Christmas! Everything else is something added. We can help eliminate depression, this holiday season, by inviting Him into our lives.
Instead of Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, maybe we should greet our friends with the more obtainable wish of “Emmanuel – God with You”.
And so, dear readers, you people who keep me going with your good wishes and encouragement and suggestions and good will towards this paper…I’d like to wish each of you not Merry Christmas, because I know that may be difficult…nor Happy Hanukkah, for happiness is elusive and temporary…nor ever a prosperous New Year, for prosperity and joy are not synonymous, but Emmanuel – God with you. There is no greater wish!
Reference: Revelation 3: 20 Paraphrased, The Holy Bible.
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