Since it’s a just few days before the ‘Big Day’, you’re probably asking yourself, “Am I ready for Christmas?” Even asking that question may strike fear in your heart, and immediately cause you to determine exactly where you stand with shopping, present wrapping, menus, dinner preparation and house cleaning. But while these things matter, there’s something that matters a whole lot more. And that’s whether you’re actually ready to celebrate how God willingly came to us as one of us to us to fully share divine love. You may be. Or not. Regardless, there’s still time to get ready to welcome the Son of God. So what if the presents aren’t wrapped perfectly, your house isn’t spic and span, and your family won’t appear on the cover of “Southern Living”. You’ll be ready to welcome Jesus. And in the end, that’s the most important thing anyway.
It’s another day closer to Christmas. The excitement is growing. We’re busy, so busy. And, sadly, far too often overlook You.
Yet You don’t turn away. You give, even as we take. You fill us with grace unceasingly. And You focus us on what matters most.
Enable us to see the Star that reaches across time. Your Incarnation. Your Promise. And Your Hope.
Help us embrace today as a holy day. Delight in You with each breath we take. Trust You more and more. And anticipate with great joy Christ’s birth.
We pray this with some uncertainty. Many questions. A bit of fear. And with much longing, anticipation, hope and gratitude.
Everywhere you turn you hear people talking about what terrible shape the world is in. Some people speak out of absolute fear, others wax eloquently as they explain exactly why what is going on is going on and still others try to use every single crisis as proof that their particular ideological perspective is correct. So how do you avoid the fear, cynicism, self-centeredness and despair that are the inevitable results of living with some new horrible reality every day? Start embracing some Christmas Seriosity. Not by putting more energy into the tree, carols, gifts and parties – as wonderful as they are. But by going to the child born in a manger, inviting him to be born in your life and experiencing how the one who is the hope of the world is your hope every single day – regardless of what is going on around you.
“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is a beautiful Christmas classic. It’s also a powerful illustration of what inevitably seems to happen this time of year. Just like a blanket of snow, you cover up real life with trees, wreaths, garlands and bows; do your best to forget your pain with parties, food and beautiful music; and try to live – at least for a little while – in a world that reflects the world you wished you lived in instead of the one you do. But be careful, because you can be so intent on living in ‘Christmas World’ that you completely miss the real Christmas. So make some time to go to the manger. Because, when you do, you’ll see God in the face of an infant, discover love that fills you to overflowing, and experience what happens in your life because God has entered into real life.
Beautiful music, parties with friends, gifts that delight, bright lights, family gatherings, children filled with excitement and delicious food. They all make this the most wonderful time of the year. But what do you do when the most wonderful time of the year turns out to be the yuckiest time of the year because you’re overwhelmed by grief, fighting depression, watching your marriage come unraveled or seeing people you love destroy their lives? For heavens sake, don’t do the worst possible thing you can do – deny how you feel, pretend everything is fine or conclude the problem is you. Instead, hold on for dear life to the one thing that truly matters about Christmas: the fact God loves you so passionately and personally that God has ‘moved into the neighborhood.’ So much so, you can proclaim, “Jesus lives here!”