A blue (or bewildering) Christmas?

John 6:68 – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

As I wrap Christmas gifts, prepare my home, and plan menus for visits from my young adult children, I can become an amateur Christmas movie critic* and sometimes even a bit of a Scrooge. An ’empty nest’ and mid-life singleness mean Christmas just isn’t what it once was. Adjusting my mindset, attitudes, and expectations takes intentionality and some work. This morning, I intentionally began to count my own blessings while hearkening back to a few weekends ago when a friend invited me to minister to the homeless in downtown Minneapolis with her. (what a wonderful and sobering experience) It was a great way to adjust my own attitude while helping those less fortunate. Maybe I’m the only one who has to work on this stuff, but I doubt it. God’s Word is my starting point for any needed attitude adjustment. (see e.g. 2 Corinthians 10:5 https://www.bible.com/bible/114/2co.10.5 ) So, as I was practicing this daily discipline, I got a specific word this morning from Scripture during my devotional time and felt prompted that it may help someone else adjust theirs, too. Hence this post.

Recently I was blessed to visit the team at Mocha Momma’s coffee in Minneapolis and volunteer to minister with my friend Marsha King (Director of Evangelism and Prayer Ministry) and other volunteers from Break Through Ministries downtown http://breakthroughmn.org

Like in the lives of some movie characters, Christmas time can be disconcerting, lonely, or bewildering for us. Or, like the song made famous by Elvis Presley, it can be a ‘blue’ Christmas. Typically, the movie characters have some crisis, loss, drama, or trauma then experience a personal catharsis, and like Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic Dickens tale, “A Christmas Carol,” they find the true joy of Christmas through giving to others, once again. (or if it’s a Rom-Com or Hallmark movie, a perfect romance — ha! I tend to avoid sappy Hallmark stuff, but some like that ‘feel good’ genre.)

For Minnesotans like me, this year “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” just isn’t coming true. As I looked out the window this morning during my devotional time of prayer at the green grass, brown cattails in the wetland, and the foggy shroud of grey skies (with rain in the forecast to boot!), it’s kind of a downer, honestly! (not our typical Christmas weather! Last year we had 10 inches of snow, freezing temps and cheerful, clear skies of blue). I’d be terrible at living in Seattle, for sure. I surmise that for one reason or another, someone else ‘out there’ (in MN or on the internet) may be feeling blue or a bit bewildered this Christmas. Whether it’s the gray weather, a required work shift, an unexpected life circumstance, the loss of a loved one leaving an empty chair at the table, empty arms we prayed would be full at Christmas, a relationship gone awry, an illness, chronic pain, joblessness, homelessness or just an adjustment to a new season of life (like me); I felt prompted to share a Word of hope (from God’s Word) for those feeling bewildered, bereaved, sad, afraid or lonely this Christmas.

As I read the Gospel of John (New Testament, Holy Bible) this morning, I found the first disciples, in John 6: 41-69, feeling bewildered and scratching their heads ( a little like some of those movie characters or, perhaps you, at Christmas this year). By Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, being a follower of Jesus just wasn’t quite as easy as when he was healing the sick, raising the dead, and multiplying food for them. Jesus’ teaching had become difficult in John 6. He had started talking about things like sharing in his suffering. Also, he spoke about himself as the “bread” sent from heaven, about “eating his body” and “drinking his blood” (foreshadowing his death on the cross to come, the last supper, and the holy communion that he would institute later as an Ordinance for the Church). The more challenging his teaching was becoming, the more followers he lost. (see e.g. John 6: 66). In their bewilderment, he posed this question to the 12 followers that remained, “Do you also want to go away.?” (v. 67) In spite of his bewilderment, Peter answered honestly, simply and emphatically, (v.68) “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” In his own bewilderment, Peter’s hope remained in Jesus Christ. Ours can too! .https://www.bible.com/bible/114/jhn.6.68

In this midst of our own blues, disappointments, challenges, unpredictable feelings, loss, and life changes, may we who believe reaffirm our hope in Christ, the true gift of Christmas. Like Ebenezer Scrooge (or The Grinch who unsuccessfully tried to steal Christmas) who found hope through giving, may we find renewed hope in the grace and forgiveness found only at the cross of Jesus Christ (and extend that same forgiveness to those who’ve disappointed or hurt us in some way), and also in giving to others. May we say the same as the Apostle Peter and remain firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, the true gift of Christmas.




P.S. — In addition to the spiritual application, I also decided to be thankful for no ice on the roads or killer freezing temperatures! Maybe it’s not such a blue Christmas after all? 🙂

*This year’s choice for my “new” (to me) favorite Christmas movie (besides my perennial favorite “White Christmas”) is a quirky British film I recently stumbled across entitled “Last Christmas.” If it seems like another bland, run-of-the-mill rom-com, stick with it; there is a psychological plot twist and redemption message weaved in. I’ve rewatched it to pick up some of the nuances. While I”m not endorsing all the movie’s themes, there is a message of hope in the end! It’s a bit of a modern-day Christmas Carol. I loved it!

Janet DeCaster
Janet DeCaster
Christian Author & Speaker, Janet DeCaster, holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, and a Certificate of Biblical Studies from ACTS International Bible College. She has served as a Pastor to women in a local Church, a Deacon, a global missions team member, and a committed volunteer in many capacities in the Church. She is Ordained for Christian ministry with the Assemblies of God, U.S.A. Learn more about her books and ministry at her website, janetdecaster.com

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