As we move further into this festive time of year, it’s common to be swept up in the picture-perfect images of Christmas that abound in movies, commercials, and social media posts. This week, I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind myself, racing to hang our outdoor Christmas lights, driven by the societal expectation that tells me I must have them up to have the “right kind of Christmas.” This was followed by a good hour-or-so session of rummaging through our holiday plastic storage bins desperately searching for the red and white lids of my children’s Christmas mugs that I can’t seem to find. Can I still find a way to celebrate Christmas without them? Is it possible? Oh, the pressure!
We must find a moment to PAUSE and REFLECT: Are we missing the true meaning of Christmas?
Let’s reimagine that first Christmas. It wasn’t a glamorous event, like our nativity scenes today, perhaps that require ticket stubs to come view the scene and pet the animals while we sip hot chocolate on a cool winter’s night.
The truth is, the birthplace of Jesus, whether a stable, cave, or modest room, was humble and far from the comforts we have today. Jesus’s arrival reminds us that He often appears in the simplest of places: not the home with impeccable decorations and polished floors, not at the party where everyone is dressed in their holiday best and appears to have their act together.
Instead, He shows up in the hearts of those burdened by life’s trials, our true reality.
He shows up for the single mother, weary and tired from working two jobs, as she exhaustingly prepares a late-night peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her child because she can’t get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.
He shows up for the eighty-year-old man who just lost his wife and is lonelier than ever and is now learning how to care for himself alone in a deafening silence that echoes throughout the house.
Jesus comes and comforts that family who recently had to change the locks to the doors of their house to keep their adult child from breaking into their home due to their addiction. He also comes for that addicted child.
If you’re feeling out of place, overwhelmed, or struggling to meet holiday expectations, remember, Jesus came for you and me. It’s in these trials that we stretch out our arms before the Lord and say, “Merry Christmas.” This is precisely why Jesus came: to save us from our sins, to free us from our fallen nature and the burdens that will one day be gone forever.
In God’s eyes, each of us is worthy of God’s love, imperfections and all. This Christmas, may you find peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the very reason for this season.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17
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