What I know of Christmas today is certainly different than what I knew as a child. I was really caught up in the magic of the holiday: the Christmas tree, decorations, presents, special treats, and being out of school for two whole weeks. It was a magical time of year.
As a child I was clueless about the sometimes unfortunate backstory of the magic. Stress, lack of money to buy gifts (or even to eat), being alone when you’re supposed to be with family and friends, broken relationships, overindulgence in alcohol and so on. This special time of year turns out to be the most dreaded for some. It doesn’t have to be the case, though, even in the most dire circumstances.
A different perspective on this season has emerged gently in my thought, and it continues to grow. You might think that my Christian affiliation means Christmas to me is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. But really, that is only the most familiar symbol of what Christmas has to offer.
A passage in the Bible in the book of Isaiah really tells the whole story of Christmas. It is the promise of hope fulfilled. In Isaiah it says that..
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. ( Isaiah 9:2)
What do we hope for? It can mean repaired relationships, finding companionship, financial needs being met, and health restored. Restoring and maintaining health perhaps has been the biggest quest of mankind. The human race has devoted untold resources to alleviating pain and suffering, and prolonging life.
Modern medicine makes the headlines, but the ability to heal one’s self and others through prayer has been around for thousands of years. Christ Jesus taught how to change thought in order to bring healing, and this power is still available for everyone. The promise is for all time and there is current evidence that the promise is being fulfilled.
I found the story of Gabrielle Giffords’ remarkable recovery this year to be a great example of the power of the right mental atmosphere in healing. Not only is Gabby someone who never gives up, but her husband, Mark Kelly, and mother, Gloria, also knew that Gabby would recover as well. They saw that she was surrounded by love and a positive and unlimited attitude. This is a story of strength and courage, living out the fulfillment of the promise.
The backstory of Christmas isn’t hopelessness and despair. It’s fulfillment of the promise. Health is the best gift, and we all have more resources than we know to achieve it. Better than seasonal magic is the hope that Jesus brought to 2000 years ago. And the promise is being fulfilled.