The movie is on the “Hallmark Channel.” It could just as easily be on “Lifetime, “Up,” or other TV networks this Christmas season. Because it’s basically the same movie, no matter which network it is on. I know, because they have been on at our house since before Thanksgiving. (Thank goodness for more than one TV!)
The young, beautiful woman has gone through difficult trials in her life, and has just about given up on love. A handsome young man enters the scene. At first, they don’t get along, but there is a spark there. After some conflict and drama, they fall in love, the problem is solved, and the young, beautiful woman finally finds true love. Throw in some snow, maybe a cute kid or puppy, and you have your TV Christmas movie. It’s a beautiful Christmas, and they all live happily ever after.
But real life is seldom like that Christmas movie. Not all the problems we face are solved by Christmas Day. The problems and situations we may face during the Christmas season may be best described as “complicated.” And the holiday season will often magnify those “complications.” And we’ve all been there at one time or another, if you are not there now.
What are those “complications?” Pastor Andy Stanley defines them as “problems we can’t solve, people we can’t change, and expectations we can’t meet.” And Christmas will often highlight them in a way that the rest of the year doesn’t. I suppose it’s all the things and events happening during the Christmas season. And that you can’t avoid being around those people who have made your life complicated. Then you see all those people whose life seems so uncomplicated and joyous. (But, truthfully, you really don’t know what is really going on behind all those smiling, happy faces on Facebook.)
But complications at Christmas are not a new thing. Go back two thousand years. A young, teenage woman is pregnant, out of wedlock! She was engaged to be married, but her fiancée is not the father. What is he going to do? He runs a little carpentry business in Galilee. Mary is the talk of the town. But, because he loved her, and a dream from an angel, Joseph decides not to call off the engagement, and marries her.
Then things get even more complicated. Joseph and Mary have to go to Bethlehem to pay taxes. That’s a long trip on a donkey, with a very pregnant wife. Everybody else is also there, paying their taxes, so there are no available rooms at the local inns. They end up staying in a stable with farm animals. Of course, in that stinky, dirty stable, that’s the night the little baby is born. So, in a complicated, unplanned, unorganized setting, that first Christmas, the Christ child was born. That child was Jesus, who is “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
So, in that complicated first Christmas, the Saviour of the world was born. And “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness.” (John 1:4-5) And if your life is complicated this Christmas, perhaps the Light needs to shine. Perhaps the Light needs to shine on that problem you can’t solve. Perhaps the Light needs to shine on that person you can’t change. (Maybe it’s yourself.) And, perhaps the Light needs to shine on those expectations you are always trying to meet.
If you have that Light living inside you, maybe you can be the light in your complicated Christmas. Maybe that’s why you are there, to be the light. You may can’t solve that problem by Christmas Day, like in those Hallmark movies, but you can be the light that shines on the One who is the solution. You may can’t change that person, but you can shine the light on the Person Who Changes Everything. You may can’t meet all those expectations, but you can trust Him, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
So, have a Merry Christmas! And if your life is complicated this Christmas week, take heart. Remember, it was also complicated that very first Christmas. And out of all those complications came Jesus, the Prince of Peace!
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org