We have awakened again and are greeted by a new day that draws us ever closer to Christmas. The calendar reminds us why the parties, celebrations and activities of the season swirl around us. Your Spirit reminds us why we need time and space to prepare for what you are doing in the birth of Jesus long ago and here and now.
To save us because we need it and are incapable of doing it ourselves. To heal us because life has battered us or we have battered others. To renew us when we are burdened to the point of breaking. To offer us hope when we have lost ours. And to fill us with so much compassion that the only thing we can do is get involved in the lives of others, especially those who are so easily forgotten.
So, Lord, help us get ready for the birth of the Jesus in our lives. We pray this with some uncertainty and fear because we know we will never be the same. But we also pray it with far more longing, anticipation and hope because we know it is our destiny.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
The babe in the manger. Two parents. Shepherds. Animals. Magi. And the angel – always the angel. In our minds, we’ve so romanticized that scene we’ve forgotten what was really going on in the messiness, chaos and filth of the stable. God became a human being. The creator of the universe became one of us in the most vulnerable way possible. The One we had turned away from reached out across the chasm to touch us. It is incarnation. And it means that babe in the manger is still the hope of the world.
Some say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It is. Others believe it’s all about a special feeling you don’t experience any other time. That’s true. Still others proclaim it’s about giving, kindness and joy. Yep. But ultimately Christmas is about a baby. Ordinary in every way, yet God with us. The one who shares the fullness of God’s love, saves us from ourselves and transforms us from the inside out. The hope of the world. Yes, Christmas is about a lot of wonderful things. But it’s always about Jesus.
If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you have Christmas wish list that includes things like a new car, jewelry, golf clubs or a trip to an exotic beach you’ve been dreaming about for years. But you also have a second Christmas wish that’s a whole lot more important because it comes from God’s heart to yours. It includes things like a healed marriage, loving Jesus more deeply or experiencing the fog of depression that envelopes you lifting. As we draw closer to Christmas, which list are you going to keep working on?
Your Christmasing is in full swing. But there will be a moment when you will hear God asking you, “What in heaven’s name does any of this have to do with what Christmas is really all about?” Take that moment to travel to Bethlehem, walk into the stable, look at the baby Jesus and remember again the true meaning of Christmas – how God became one of us to share the fullness of God’s love in the most personal way possible. While it may only seem like an imaginary journey, it’s actually a journey into the heart of God.
God’s passionately in love with you. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, what others say about you, how you feel about yourself or even how badly you’ve messed up. That’s because how God feels about you is not up to you. Never has been and never will be. It’s simply the way things are – today, tomorrow and for all eternity. So remember, your job is not to convince God to love you. It’s to receive what God is freely making available in Jesus. That’s why it’s called a gift.