From Christmas Pressure to Peace

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Except for your house, on Christmas Eve, with presents still to wrap, dinner preparations to make, and out-of-town company to host. Your kids are hopped up on anticipation and sugar cookies, taking their usual volume of 10 to 100. The only thing silent is the screaming voice in your head telling you to cancel Christmas this year. And the only thing "holy" about this night is the run in your tights that won't be subdued by clear nail polish.

The celebration has turned into commiseration. If Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate Jesus, the Prince of Peace, then how have we wound up feeling no peace and all this pressure?

christmas peace

Where does the pressure come from?

Look at Mary's words, in response to God for the blessing of His son:

Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
— Luke 1:46-50 (NLT)

This is a song of praise and thanksgiving for God's blessing. Mary isn't asking God, "How can I prove I am worthy? How can I repay you for this blessing?" Mary knows that she is unworthy of this Gift; she understands that God's favor has everything to do with His mercy.

We work ourselves weary, yet all God wants is our praise.

If the pressure we feel to create a perfect Christmas experience doesn't come from God, then where does it come from? Ourselves? Others? Both?

It's important to ask ourselves that question. If we hope to experience a Christmas filled with joy and peace, we must identify why we feel so much pressure to perform when the person whose party we are throwing has already told us that we are enough.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
— Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG)

It isn't bad to want to create great memories for your kids, to accommodate your extended family, to give to the poor, and to be a gracious host. We should desire to do all things with excellence, especially a celebration for Jesus. 

That being said, we must be careful to keep Christ the object of our worship, not Christmas.

Where does our peace come from?

Pressure isn't always a bad thing, just admire a diamond for a moment and you'll be reminded of that. But pressure can become a negative thing when it overwhelms us, burdens us, and causes us to lose our peace.

Wearying pressure and renewing peace do not mix.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
— Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

We know the pressure we feel to create the greatest Christmas experience doesn't come from God, but peace does. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. If we want to fill ourselves with peace, we must fill ourselves with Jesus.

Exchanging the Pressure for Peace

Just like "Silent Night" you have probably sung "O Holy Night" more times in your life than you can count. But have you carefully read the words to this song? I certainly hadn't.

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices

O night divine
O night when Christ was born

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains He shall break
For the slave is our brother
And in His Name
All oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy Name

Christ is the Lord
O praise His Name forever
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night divine

 

What if the words sung in this song are true? That because of Jesus' birth, we have hope in a new day. That we no longer need to feel weary and burdened. That to love others and live at peace are our simple purpose.

When we internalize those truths in our lives, the only response is to praise His Name and proclaim His power and glory.

If you want less pressure and more peace this Christmas, love, serve, give, and praise God. But don't do it for the memories or even the momentary experience. Do it out of the abundance of a grateful heart, knowing you are unworthy in your own power, yet the Gift Giver has made you worthy to receive the ultimate Gift.


ChristmasTaryn Nergaard