I learned something new this Christmas season—how to openly enjoy and grieve the holiday, while totally rejoicing in and enjoying the holiday. I write about it here in this guest blog post that I was asked to write: The Year I Forgot About Christmas. I hope you will take the time to read it, since this brief post jumps off from that one, to these thoughts…

These past few days have been hectic, busy, and wonderful, with a spice of pain thrown in to make the appreciation deeper. None of us likes pain, yet if we will be truthful it can be a real life saver. The more I contemplate it, the more I realize that Christmas—whenever or however one chooses to celebrate it—is only important because of the solution God has given for the great pain of humankind’s separation from Him. Christmas has import only because of the great pain God suffered on our behalf through the crucifixion, and the importance of Christmas is permanent only because of the resurrection we celebrate at Easter.

Today in Israel we are now in the midst of Chanukah celebrations. This weekend we will celebrate a New Year. The Christmas holiday will be left behind very quickly; treasured gifts will be used, put away, and grow old. Ornaments will be packed up for next year, and the beautiful and deeply meaningful Christmas Carols, sadly, will be set aside to be sung again next year.

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday, but for some the holidays truly are difficult. They are tied up with so many memories. I have been learning to separate the holiday from the holy day, and it has made a huge difference for me because no one can take the holy day away, it is in my heart.

May this holy day, the wonder of Emmanuel—God with us—remain in all of our hearts every day. The one who was indeed called Wonderful, Counselor, and Prince of Peace ([biblegateway passage=”Isaiah 9:6″]) was born to live for us, to suffer for us, to die for us, and to be raised up from the dead—for you and for me. The best gift I can offer you as we exit the holidays and enter a New Year is our wonderful Savior. May His love and the power of His resurrection fill your heart every day, giving new strength and new hope for whatever is ahead.