Matt Chandler has explained why the “Christmas blues” present a “unique opportunity” for Christians and identified three ways believers can make the most of the holiday season.
In a recent op-ed, Chandler, lead pastor at the Village Church in Texas, said that for many people, Christmas can be a difficult time of year. Some experience the “Christmas blues” — feelings of loneliness and depression, while others may experience the “Christmas hangover,” the feeling that “hits after the presents are opened, the stockings are empty, the meal is over and we find ourselves thinking, ‘Is that it?’”
Social media, TV commercials and department stores paint an idyllic picture that our loneliness will be turned into joy and that gifts will satisfy, Chandler said, but “these expectations can’t possibly be met.”
“The Christmas blues and the Christmas hangover come together when unbridled expectations meet reality—when we build up an expectation for something that it can’t possibly meet,” Chandler said.
But this time of year and the “sad cycle of Christmas” present a “unique situation” for Christians, the pastor contended.
“Given the reality of the Christmas blues and the fact that people seem more open during this season to spiritual, meaningful things, Christmas affords the opportunity for evangelism,” he explained.
“This holiday creates the perfect time and space for us to give people the only thing that will wake them up from their spiritual slumber, to give them the only gift that will bring them true joy and satisfaction.”
Chandler encouraged believers to pray for those discouraged this Christmas; make specific plans to see a few of these individuals ahead of Christmas, and to practice sharing the Gospel aloud and writing it out.
“This Christmas, we have the chance to not only overcome the chaos and confusion of the holidays and find the substance underneath the shadows,” he said. “We also have the chance to show the world around us what that true substance is.”
He concluded: "As we move into the weeks ahead, let us be bold and courageous as we share the good news of the gospel, the greatest gift in the world, with our coworkers, friends, family and anyone who will listen. Let us be excited and expectant about introducing others to their God and King, who sees them, hears them, cares for them and will give them a joy and peace that is actually real and will actually last."
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), almost half of all women (44 percent) and a third of men (31 percent) reported an increase in stress around the holidays. Another survey found that almost half of those polled (45 percent) would prefer to skip Christmas altogether due to increased financial pressure and other issues.
Chandler’s latest book,An Even Better Christmas, is designed to be given away to non-believing friends and family or at Christmas services and other evangelistic events.
“We wanted to write a book and just provide a resource to get underneath the Christmas season and grab hold of the anchor of the season that really should help sustain us, not just through the season but really throughout the year,” he said.
“Our confidence is not in all of our dreams coming true on this morning, but that there's a God who has put on flesh and dwelt among us, He has tabernacled among us,” the pastor continued. “And so we wanted to write the book so that we might orient your heart in this season about the coming of Jesus Christ, the son of God, to take away the sins of the world and to camp around the idea that He is with us even to this day, and will be with us moving forward throughout the year.”