Christmas is almost upon us. Decorations are going up, carols are playing and Christmas presents are being wrapped and stored under the tree. It is an exciting time of year where we get to stop and fix our eyes on the miracle that is Jesus. It is a time when we can gather together and give thanks for the year that has been; the blessings and joys and highlights that were sprinkled throughout 2017. It is a time when we can sit with our loved ones and enjoy a meal and make new memories to tuck away in the corners of our hearts. Yet for some, it can also be an exhausting time of year. For some, Christmas is a time when family gatherings bring anxiety and weariness and fear of potential conflicts. A time when gift shopping and the expectation of doing Christmas right adds stress to an already tight budget. A time when weariness from working so hard all year seeps in and you are aching all the way down to your bones. For some, Christmas brings with it the knowledge that another year has gone by with prayers unanswered.
If you find that Christmas has lost its glow in the midst of life, be assured that you are not alone.
It is easy to let the chaos and burdens of life get in the way of what Christmas is all about. I imagine that Mary and Joseph were both feeling weary and overwhelmed as they traveled to find a place to birth Jesus. While the bible doesn’t go into detail about how they felt, it’s not hard to imagine how weary Mary and Joseph would have been feeling as they traveled from Galilee to Bethlehem to complete the census that had been decreed at the time. It’s not hard to imagine the aches and pains they would have felt as they tried to find a place to settle so that Mary could give birth. It’s not hard to imagine the fear and anxiety and nervousness that Mary would have been feeling while Joseph tried to find a place to rest and deliver the baby. I imagine that upon walking into the stable, there would have been a sigh of relief to finally be able to get off their feet and get some rest.
But then Jesus came along.
Despite the long travel, the fear, anxiety and weariness that would have been their companion, it all came to a stop when Jesus arrived. It all stopped at the sight of baby Jesus. Everything faded away as they beheld the face of the One that would save the world. The world faded away as they fixed their eyes on the greatest gift the world has ever seen, Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus didn’t change what was happening outside; they were still in a stable, still under threat and still exhausted. None of the external factors had changed, but they had changed. They had stopped. They fixed their eyes on Jesus and they beheld Him and adored Him. And that is what we can do this Christmas.
We can stop.
We can fix our eyes and we can behold the gift of salvation that was so freely given to us.
We can let the rest of the world fade out as we make time to stand in awe and worship the Son of God that came for us. We can put the lists and plans aside and meditate on scriptures that tell of why Jesus came. We can set our hearts on Him in childlike wonder and give thanks for the gift of salvation that Jesus was and is. The turkey will still need to be cooked and the presents will still need to be wrapped and Uncle Jack will still be falling asleep in his soup over the dinner table, but let’s put all that aside for one moment and just worship. Let us intentionally stop and adore Him. And let’s remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and that only He can restore and redeem us. As we gather with our loved ones, let us remember that He is worthy of our praise and love and let’s thank Him for all that He has done, is doing, and will do.