Practically in all corners of the world, political leaders and medical personnel are calling on their fellow citizens to stay at home this holiday season, and to forego their traditional activities. They are urging them to make sacrifices for the benefit of everyone. Yet almost everywhere there has been pushback. Many have called it COVID fatigue. People are weary of the lockdowns, wearing masks, and social distancing. They long to get back to their normal.

This Christmas, my wife and I will be spending it with one another. We had planned to spend this holiday season in South Africa with her family. The pandemic made that impossible. We had also planned, given we were remaining in town, to celebrate with our best friends. However, last week, he tested positive for the virus and has had mild symptoms, and now getting together with them is not wise. So, we will be spending Christmas by ourselves. We don’t like it. We really wish this not to be our holiday reality, but, as the saying goes, it is what it is. And it is a sacrifice we are willing to make without complaint. 

As I reflect on the past ten months in light of Christmas, it seems we are called to be more comfortable with the sacrifices we often have to make in life for the good of others and ourselves. It is easy and natural to focus on what we are giving up. The flesh always wants to fulfill its desires. This played out through the entire life of Jesus—from birth to death.

We are told that the Word became flesh (John 1:14). Jesus left Glory and came to earth to live in the constraints of a human body. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make out of his love for us. In the desert, his natural human desires were put to the test. Out of his love for the Father, he resisted fulfilling his fleshly desires. When persecuted, he resisted the desire to strike back. When his fate was apparent, he struggled with his human desire not to suffer, but he humbled himself to the will of the Father. He sacrificed.

There is no doubt that most of us have given up a lot during this pandemic. Perhaps we would be blessed to consider that in a small way we are each following in the footsteps of Jesus, whose life willingly began and ended with sacrifice. It seems a fitting way to celebrate a Christmas none of us could have expected.

© Jim Musser 2020

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