Updated: Jun 28, 2022
The anticipation each year of coloured lights, carols, laughter, pageants, parties, presents, turkey, special cookies, and stockings by the tree. Expectations and plans. Every year the hope of magical moments of wonder and celebration.
But sometimes the reality of the holiday season is anything but merry.
Maybe you are struggling with financial issues which makes gift giving stressful. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and the thought of missing them is changing your hopes and plans. Maybe you are having relationship struggles with family which makes the gatherings dreaded instead of joyful.
The real Christmas story, despite how Hollywood likes to depict it, was far from perfect.
Mary was a young girl who was very pregnant and travelling across a desert on a donkey. She would have been tired, sore, and seeking elusive shelter far from home. Joseph was a young man who was being faithful to care for his young fiancé who claimed to be miraculously pregnant with the Son of God. The shame and weight of societal judgement would have been huge, yet they were faithful.
The stable would have been some shelter from the cold night, but it was just a barn, smelly with animals.Mary and Joseph would also have been dirty and smelly from travelling. Mary gave birth with only Joseph to help her. No doctors, no midwives, no nurses, no family members to assist. Not on a bed, but on a pile of hay. No running water. No electricity. No turkey feast to celebrate. No lights. No songs.
Yet in that deplorable situation we find the turning point of history. The God of Heaven came down to earth as a little helpless baby to repair the spiritual relationship between God and Man. All the hopes of Heaven within the tiny frame of a helpless newborn.
Angels announced the birth to shepherds to come and celebrate. Can you imagine the terror of having an angel appear before you while tending your flocks during the night? Yet they were faithful and they came to celebrate the birth of a King.
The angel didn’t invite the important but the lowly. Not the kings and nobility. Not the wealthy and influential. Not the scholars and merchants. Why? Because God isn’t impressed with titles, money, and influence. He came for ALL of us. Regardless of our accomplishments, intelligence, money, or status.
Christmas is the story of Jesus who came for each one of us. The broken, the lonely, the bereaved, the struggling, and the needy. It is only His love for us that gives us meaning in this life and a hope for the next.
So this year, join me in enjoying the lights, the music, the food, and the people. The good, the bad, and the ugly! Embrace it all. Embrace the mess. Rejoice. Just like Mary and Joseph did. Like the shepherds did. Rejoice in the birth of Jesus. Celebrate the small moments. Cherish the glimpse of Heaven, and despite your circumstances, choose Joy.