Hope is the spirit of Christmas

I recall conversations from past Christmas seasons about a “spirit” of Christmas. I remember people sometimes talking about whether they had the “Christmas spirit” this year or not.

I think what was really meant by that was whether they were in a joyful and giving mood during that Christmas season.

I still hear some references from time to time about the “spirit of Christmas.” So, is there a “spirit” that is associated with Christmas?

Perhaps I should say a little more about the reality of “spirits.” The Bible refers in many places about different kinds of “spirits.” There is mention of a “spirit of antichrist,” a “spirit of fear,” a “broken spirit” and a “foul spirit.” Also included in the Bible’s list is a “spirit of grace,” a “humble spirit,” a “spirit of jealousy” and a “spirit of judgement” and “knowledge.” There’s more … a “spirit of truth,” a “sorrowful spirit” and an “unclean spirit.” You probably get the idea that there are a lot of conditions that the Bible associates with “spirits.” Some are good, and some are evil and harmful.

So, what about Christmas? Is there really a “spirit” of Christmas? I believe that the way we feel about most everything in our life is a result of some kind of “spirit” that we have allowed to enter us through a life event or a life decision.

Christmas, despite all the commercialization and emphasis on gift exchanging, springs from the true story of the birth of Jesus, God’s promised Messiah.

There is a long period of darkness in the Bible when God was silent. The nation Israel was God’s chosen people through whom the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, was to come. Between the last prophecy from the prophet Malachi to the first gospel of Matthew, there were 400 years of waiting for God to speak.

When God did speak, he did so with the glorious announcement of the birth of Jesus to a small group of lowly shepherds on a hillside outside of Bethlehem. The effect then, and even now, is a spirit of hope!

Sweaters stretch. Toys break. Jewelry gets tarnished or lost. Clothes only fit for awhile and do not stay in style, but Jesus is the gift of salvation for the world, and that has never changed.

Because of Jesus’ entrance into our world, sin can be forgiven and our life can go on for eternity. If that doesn’t instill a “spirit” of hope, hope cannot be found.

David Woods is a teaching pastor at Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.