Good Monday friends! I hope you’ve had a little time today to recover from all of the craziness this past weekend. And I hope you’ve been able to spend time remembering what Christmas is about. Christmas is almost like a wild horse that gets away from people. It starts out fun and exciting, with the parties and the holiday lights, and the festivities, but as you allow the spending and shopping and the cooking to kick in, it can slowly move faster and faster, until it feels like you’re running around without any control. And for many it makes the day after Christmas like a hangover…you crash and have to recover. So today, there are many, who are trying their best to recover from what was a crazy, frenetic couple of weeks. Back when I did therapy, I would have people describe horrible day after blues, that were exactly like a hangover…the buildup, the excitement, the crazy last minute shopping, the frenetic increase in pace, and midnight wrapping, then the crash with headaches and isolation. Please don’t lie, we’ve all been through it. It makes Christmas a tough holiday. Even if you enjoy all of the gifts and cooking and craziness, the day after letdown is pretty tough for most people. And so, many wind up numbing during Christmas just to make it through. And it’s ironic, because the season was intended to be slow, and reflective, pensive even. Yet our modern culture has stripped away the real, true, hope found in Christmas and replaced it with something that leaves us empty. And for some, that emptiness is carried over into their experiences of God and the church. Here I am God, celebrating the day of your birth and look what happens…I crash and burn. It’s important here to do something I actually hate doing, and that’s splitting the nature of Christmas. There are actually two Christmases in the US and for many around the world. The first Christmas is the one most commonly experienced, is the over commercialized, highly competitive, financially debilitating Christmas. This Christmas is very empty and addictive, and for many, no matter how wealthy you are, it’s hurtful. It’s painful because the one really meaningful thing in life is stripped away, our presence. The second, is the quiet, reflective, non commercialized holiday spent remembering God’s presence and His time with us, and all that occurs because Immanuel came. This part of Christmas is filled with inner rewards, insight into the nature of God’s love for us, and outer rewards, the sharing of God’s love with others who so desperately need it. Over the years I’ve tried to encourage the second form of Christmas, while not feeding the beast of the first. Sometimes that can be interpreted by others weirdly though. This year we held service during Christmas morning, exactly because we need to remind ourselves of the relational and reflective part of Christmas. And on a totally hilarious note, we had to break into our building this year to have the service, the city sent the poor kid with the wrong key to open the door. Thanks to my son, James, who squeezed in through a window and got a huge rug burn, which he’ll probably never forget, to help us open the doors so we could worship Immanuel. Ironic that we had to break into our building to worship. And so, I pray that each of us, no matter which Christmas we experienced, can slow down and remember the amazing gift that we are celebrating this Christmas-God with us. I love ya and I’m praying for ya!