Celebrating Christmas with an Eternal Perspective

There's a passage in C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" that has always stuck with me. 

In his fifteenth letter instructing his nephew, Wormwood, in the art of misguiding the human race, Uncle Screwtape, gives this account of “the Enemy’s” (God’s) design for his creatures:
The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and that point of time which they call the Present…. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it.
He also offers his advice on how to best misguide a person’s point of focus:
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present…. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity…. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future…fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
I have thought about this a LOT in regards to this holiday season. So much of the holidays is centered around expectations... both our own and the expectations others place on us. And... expectations are firmly rooted in the future. An idyllic notion of how we hope things will be.

When we find ourselves rooted in expectations, it translates to discontentment in the present. Relationships are hurt because an expectation went unmet. Days are ruined as we wallow in our missed opportunities to create the perfect holiday moment. We snap at family members for not complying to our wishes and grumble when a pie burns.

All because... we are rooted in the future, "the thing least like eternity."

But... when we think of Christmas and we find ourselves reflecting on the last year, there are so many expectations we had of this particular Christmas that may have already gone unmet. Maybe a family member we hoped would be at the table is no longer with us. Perhaps we have gone yet another month with a negative pregnancy test. Maybe there was a job loss or it's a difficult parenting season.

Whatever it may be, when our eyes are set on the future rather than eternity, the fruit that is produced in the present is reflective of that... and the Christmas season is ripe for such expectations to go unfulfilled.

Conversely... if our eyes are set on eternity, what kinds of fruit might be produced in the present?

I am not saying we aren't allowed to grieve a loss, whether it be a physical loss or the loss of something that could have been. But rather, that at Christmas, a holiday born out of necessity due to the darkness that enshrouded the world before the Savior came, that we return to an eternal perspective.

If my children wake up with stomach bugs on Christmas, do I get to grumble and complain and bemoan the rescheduling that may need to happen and lament the woes of a viral infection's ill-timed arrival? Or... do I have the eternal perspective that my children are eternal souls that have been entrusted to me? And it is my call to lovingly serve and care for them, whether a stomach bug arise on June 4th or July 25th.

If the meal doesn't pull together, the cookie exchange falls through, the Christmas cards don't get ordered in time, or I don't find the perfect gift, I can walk with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, because my mind is set on eternity... not earthly things.

So, this Christmas season, if you find yourself feeling anxious, frustrated, fearful, angry, or discontent... think of where you are placing your hope. Is it in an expectation of the season that you didn't realize you had? I would guess it likely is. And remember... the entire reason we have Christmas is because the weary world needed a reason to rejoice. And that is still as true today as it was 2,000 years ago. 


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