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If you aren't feeling the Christmas spirit, remember the promise Christ's birth brings us

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ron HemphillPsalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

I just love this time of year, especially Christmas. The bright lights, Christmas music playing, listening to the children and their great expectations of the gifts they are hoping to receive. Family getting together, choir practices and of course the Christmas programs at school and church and the parades. But for some, not so much. It can be a reminder of loved ones who are no longer with us, or military personnel stationed overseas in a war zone or conflict area. Maybe your financial condition is suffering. Maybe you are someone who doesn't like the crowds, so shopping is a major ordeal. So, you have this dark ominous cloud hanging over you.  You feel overwhelmed or even lost.

I just heard this past week, "I don't feel to Christmas-y this year." Well, I'm glad I walk by faith and not my feelings because there are times when I don't feel too spiritual or maybe even times when I just don't feel like going to church that particular Sunday. I was teasing my wife one day about staying home from church that day, and she said, "While some may have that option, Honey, you are the pastor you have to be there!" Ha! What perspective!

So, it is by faith even when I don't feel like it that I get up and get around anyways. No matter if I feel tired, overworked, gloomy or just out of sorts, I still go. It's funny how my whole attitude begins to change. I walk through the doors and the greetings start, the shaking of hands or hugs. The music starts, and almost involuntarily my foot begins to tap in time, and I start singing. It's amazing how that works.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we read, "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." I've heard so many times, "Pastor, people just don't know or understand how I feel." Maybe they don't, or maybe they do. One thing for certain is true: Jesus knows you, even if you don't know Him.

OK, back to Christmas. You are feeling overwhelmed or just not into it this year.  Give it to Jesus, give it to the Lord. You say, "that sounds good, but I just don't know how." Boy, have I been there. What I do is I surround myself with people who genuinely care, even if I don't feel like being around others or even want to be around others. I know instinctively it is good for me, so I do it.

Don't get together with others who are complaining or griping about Christmas, that certainly won't do you any good. No, get together with others who are excited and happy about celebrating the birth of Christ. You need something to get you out of the mulligrubs, not sink you further into them. I was just visiting with a little boy last week and he was so excited. He was telling me all about everything he wanted for Christmas, so I listened intently and smiled the whole time. Before you say he was missing the point, that little boy was only 4 or 5 years old. It took me back to my childhood and the great expectations I had for Christmas.

For me, it doesn't matter if it's December or July. The promise is still the same. I can roll all my problems all my troubles over onto the Lord because He cares about me, and His promise is that He will be a very present help in my time of need.  So, I will continue to put up the lights, trim the tree, get into the snacks, wrap presents, sing Christmas carols and look forward to celebrating. I have the promise, and it is still true even when it doesn't feel like it.

Pastor Ron Hemphill is the pastor at New Life Bible Chapel. He can be reached at 541-447-6543.

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