It’s the most wonderful time of the year… so the song says. It’s mostly a happy song about happy times. Kids are jingle-belling and everyone telling of happiness and cheer. I’ve always found it odd that smack dab in the middle of that light and fun little song is a line about ghost stories! At Christmas?!
I concluded that it must be referring to the Christmas movie classic, A Christmas Carol. Maybe not, but I’ve been unable to come up with anything else it could be. And the more I’ve thought on it, I decided that although many people actually do experience a Christmas season filled with fun and laughter, some find themselves drowning in scary ghost stories. As in the movie, the ghosts of Christmases (and even other seasons of life) past, present, and future will appear very real in so many lives this year. Doctors diagnose people with SAD – seasonal affective disorder – and even prescribe medication. These ghosts can be devastating!
Some people will spend this time of year rehearsing what or who they have lost in the past year(s). Maybe there will be those people who have become bitter due to lost relationships, or money, or important items. Or maybe there will be depression because of the loss of a loved one. Others will long for the Christmases of the past – when the family was all together, and there was no war, or no economic hard times, and no in-laws present to cause friction. Our memory bank is full of glorified memories of days gone by, and if we allow them to, these ghosts fill our minds and hearts and rob us of today.
Others are so caught up in the present – or presents – of the season that they miss the Presence of the season. The ghosts of materialism and desire steal joy and peace. Our hearts are shifted from what matters to what’s missing. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough days off. Not enough sleep. We are so consumed with our wants, we didn’t even notice that the Baby is quietly and subtly missing from the manger scene.
Then there are those ghosts that scare us the most. The ones that draw us into days of worry, anxiety and fear about the future. Even though the angel told the frightened shepherds “Fear not!”, questions and dread fill our minds and we get swept away in the unknown of our tomorrows … that most likely will never even occur. And even if they do, we appear as though we don’t believe that there is a God who holds all our tomorrows safely in His loving, all-knowing hands. These ghosts cripple us and captivate our hearts with lies and fear.
Yes, for some this IS the most wonderful time of the year. But for far too many, it is filled with Christmas ghosts that haunt their minds and souls. Reminders and rehearsals of our past, regrets of the circumstances of today, and reactions to the past and present that cause us to retreat out of fear of what may come.
While I understand that some depression is real and serious, I want to remind us all that JOY has come. Christmas seasons come and go, but GOD is with us. He is here and is near. There is a Hope!
I pray that you won’t miss the bells. Here them?! – they are ringing …
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep! Peace on earth, good will to men.”