A popular Christmas melody in the last decades starts with the line, "It's the most wonderful time of the year". And for a lot of folks that really rings true about the Christmas season. Somehow the combination of decorations, parties, gift-giving, cutting down the best tree you can find with family members (throw in a sleigh ride!), hanging out with family members and friends, and stuffing yourself with specially prepared goodies can give a person those feelings of "life doesn't get any better than this!" And everyone has their own way of pursuing that experience of "wonderful" at Christmas time.
The other day, I was talking with Jim, part of our church family, and he was telling me the "wonderful" adventures of taking his 6 year old daughter out on horseback to find the perfect tree in the hills near their ranch house. It would be her first time to experience this centuries-old tradition. She was an experienced rider and her horse was accustomed to dragging various objects behind him. But she was a bit nervous at the thought of dragging a tree dallied to her saddle horn. So Jim, wanting this to be a special first experience for his daughter at Christmas, volunteered to pull the tree behind his far less experienced horse. After all, every horse needs a bit more on-the-job training to make them a better ride in all situations. At least, the cowboy likes to use that logic when he is in a bit of a fix. Needless to say, things did not go quite as smoothly as hoped in the beginning. Most horses are not comfortable with a green ghost following behind them low to the ground that they can't seem to get away from. And the other problem is that Jim's horse does not like to follow behind other horses. And his daughter's horse was not sure about following the green ghost. After a few mishaps and near wrecks, the horses figured it out, and Jim's daughter gained a "wonderful" memory with her loving Dad. The horses are still trying to figure out what that green ghost was.
But for many, "wonderful" isn't associated with Christmas. They didn't have a great Dad or Mom in their past experiences of Christmas. Other negative experiences are attached to Christmas, such as poverty, divorce or death of a loved-one. Perhaps you are in the middle of something painful right now that is sucking all the "wonderful" out of your Christmas season, with no hope in sight. I talk with many who would prefer that Christmas was not on the calendar.
Well, there is another Christmas song that starts off, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas", and of course the song-writer was referring to snow. But there is a "white Christmas" that changes everything for any person who takes advantage of why Jesus came down from heaven, taking on human flesh as a newborn baby. The prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before God sent His son on that first Christmas day, wrote these words from God to His people, "Come now, and let us reason together; though your sins be like scarlet, they will be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). King David, after he had committed adultery and murder (that would wreck your Christmas), wrote these words in a song to the Lord, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Ps 51:7).
As I sit and write this at my laptop, I am watching the snow gently falling, covering all that came in previous seasons of 2011 with a beautiful, brilliant white that speaks with promise for a new start in spring. Our Father God is the creator of snow as well as new beginnings. He alone has the power and desire to wash us and cover our past seasons of life with a brilliant, heavenly white. As He does that for an individual, it is only to restore and renew and release a promise of new possibilities. Because He loves us like no other.
Perhaps you are like one of Jim's horses that keeps looking behind you at green ghosts that you just can't get away from, afraid of what you can't control, wanting to run. Here's the good news of "white Christmas": because of what God did by sending his Son to die on a cross in our place for our past failures and hurts, our history no longer has the power to control our present and our future. What trails behind us - what we did, what others did to us, and the painful experiences of life - is untied from our saddle through the blood of Jesus that washes all things clean.
The great hope in Christmas that should be the center of our celebration this year is that our savior, who came as a newborn baby Himself, makes all things new when we come to Him in humility and ask for His love to fill us and heal us. He came to make it possible for us to be "born again" or "born from above". He came to destroy all that the devil has used against us in our past and to empower us to experience a life beyond what we thought was possible on this earth.
As you read the Christmas story in Matthew 1&2 and Luke 1&2, you see a breakout of miracles and heavenly visitation that is astounding to behold. It is a promise of what your Heavenly Papa God wants to do in your life starting right now. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary, "for nothing shall be impossible with God!"
Pray this with me: Father God, I come to you right now for all the promise that Christmas holds for me because Jesus came to earth. I want to have a truly "wonderful and white Christmas". I give to you my past hurts and failures. I give to you my present struggles that I can't seem to control. I believe you will cover them with Your love and power and make them white as snow. I want to experience your life and joy. Help me to see myself and my future as You see them. Open my eyes to see You and Your love for me as I have never seen it before. I want You to be the center of my Christmas celebration and worship this year. Thank You for all You have done for me. Amen!