A Message for You

Christmas: a more joyous occasion 

by PASTOR DICK RILEY
Rockford United Methodist Church

Once upon a time, just a few days before Christmas, two men who were neighbors decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping. While the two men were out on the water, a storm arose. The water became very rough and both men struggled to keep the sailboat under control. As they maneuvered their way toward land, they suddenly hit a sandbar and the boat became grounded. Both men jumped overboard and began to push and shove with all their strength, trying to get the boat into deeper water.

With his legs almost knee-deep in the sandy mud, the waves bouncing him hard against the side of the boat, the wind ripping into his face, and the water chilling his bones, the one man turned to his buddy and said with a knowing grin, “This sure beats Christmas shopping, doesn’t it?”

I can’t help but think how often, not only Christmas shopping, but also the whole Christmas season becomes an experience in frustration, exhaustion and depression. Too often, the joy of Christmas is lost because our focus becomes centered, not on the Christ whose birth we celebrate, but rather on our desire to have joy—whatever it costs us!

As we move closer and closer to the Christmas celebration, perhaps if we made a more conscious effort to put Christ first—to put Christ above everything else—Christmas might become the most joyous occasion in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It might actually become that most joyous occasion that God intended. Let’s try it! Go to the church of your choice this weekend, and begin to get in the spirit!

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