It’s almost Christmas. Are you ready? Will you be ready?
I’m not ready…yet.
Christmas will come about, like it always does, and I will be ready, like I always am. However, not without some chaos and confusion. Every year I determine to pace myself better, to start earlier. Yet every year, somehow, December 25th sneaks up on me and I scramble.
Does that do damage to the spirit of Advent? Shouldn’t the anticipation of Christmas be characterized by love, joy and peace?
“This is how the birth of Jesus came about…” So begins Matthew’s account of the first Christmas.
Matthew goes on to describe an unwed pregnancy – surely a trauma for all involved – followed by a dreamy angelic message to Joseph that the baby is by the Holy Spirit and that he should go ahead with the marriage. The angel also instructed Joseph to name the baby Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (v. 21)
I suspect that Joseph felt more confusion and anxiety than joy and peace.
The words and attitudes most associated with the Christmas season (besides Jesus) are love, gifts, peace, joy, light and hope, and rightly so. Jesus is the source of it all. He is God’s greatest give to us, and so we gift each other in love. Jesus is the light of the world, and so we light up our trees and our houses. Jesus is our peace, and so the world is a little less contentious at Christmas time.
But, the birth of Jesus came about in the context of complicated relationships, stress and difficult circumstances. The first Christmas was likely not all that peaceful.
So, if your Christmas preparations get a little stressful…
If your visions of idyllic Christmas moments are not quite realized..
If messy family dynamics mar the Christmas mood…
Maybe, just maybe…
you are having an authentic Advent experience.
Our desires for real peace, genuine and lasting joy, and perfect love are legitimate, and they are satisfied only in Jesus, so it is natural to emphasize those longings as we celebrate his birth. Jesus left perfection and power in heaven to enter this far from perfect world. He saved us by living a surrendered life among us and dying a sacrificial death for our sins. It was stressful, messy and complicated. He did it because he loves you.
This Advent season invite Jesus into your stress, your mess, and your complicated circumstances.
He will meet you there. That is the beautiful truth that we celebrate at Christmas.
How does Christmas come about in your house?