Christmas Is Upon Us!
There were warnings all morning. A major blizzard was forecast to hit our city, Fort Wayne, Indiana. My boss was sending everyone home early to stay ahead of the storm. It was January 1978, years before the blessing of cell phones. I finally reached my husband at the seminary after several panicky calls. When I picked him up, we had just enough time to make a grocery run and then hunker down in our sixty-foot mobile home to ride out the next several days of wind and snow. The blizzard was upon us!
When something is “upon us” it can be an ominous threat. Or it can be just an important or pressing occasion. A retail advertisement I read one year boldly proclaimed: “The Christmas holiday season is upon us!”
I don’t know what emotion or response that was meant to create. Fear? Anxiety? Excitement? Worry? Frenzy? Bracing for an unexpected uncertainty? After all Christmas doesn’t sneak up on us. It’s not like Easter that moves around and can even land in different months. It’s the very same day of the same month EVERY year! We can’t use the excuse “I didn’t know it was coming!”
But this year might be different for many of us as an employer or an employee, as a leader or member of a church or organization, as a parent or a family member. It really doesn’t matter which “side of the desk” we’re on. Most of us are feeling the “upon us” of this Christmas.
Everyone’s personal situation is different. We aren’t all in the same boat. Some families have been with each other ongoing, sometimes wishing for a break from so much togetherness. Other families have been separated with no hopes of coming together for Christmas. Some people are isolated, and the feeling of loneliness will be even greater this year.
Some wonder how to even celebrate Christmas.
What is the mood for this Christmas? What is our mood as leaders in our company, our church, our organization, our family? It does matter. It conveys an emotion, positive or negative, that can spread to others just as quickly as any virus.
That’s why it’s important to remember there is another definition to consider. When something is “upon us” it can also mean it’s time to take action.
And it is time to take action!
First of all we need to focus on taking care of each other. Take an interest in how “upon us” is treating each one of us. Whether it is an employee, a boss, a student, a coworker, or even a family member who is reluctant to admit the weight they are feeling, it is up to us to take the lead and lend an ear. At the same time we need to be vulnerable enough to share our own feelings, the sharing that demonstrates understanding and empathy.
But there is still the question of celebrating Christmas. In the light of everything else that is pressing this year, the pressure of how to celebrate Christmas shouldn’t weigh on us.
No matter what our situation, we can make this Christmas an intentional celebration like no other. When monetary expressions aren’t an option, there are other gifts to give: kindness and compassion… honor and respect … love and joy. Even though those are things we should always share, we will need to be especially creative in giving those gifts this year.
We will also need to be more intentional with the inclusion of our Savior in this year’s celebration. Our Lord Jesus always reminds us that He is more interested in those things that money can never buy… our love and devotion.
That’s why a third definition is so appropriate for Christmas. Upon us can also mean “completely or approximately in contact with us.”
Our Lord Jesus is upon us. That’s His promise! We have only one thing to decide. Will it be just an approximate contact or a complete connection? After all, He is ready to be “upon us” completely, to remind us that our relationship with Him is the most pressing and important part of this season.
So relish this occasion, this holiday, this celebration, this relationship with Our Savior with joy!
The Christ Child is upon us!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like JesusDecember 2020)