I said in Friday’s blog that I wasn’t really into the Christmas season this year. The things that I have usually enjoyed doing, haven’t brought the enjoyment that it usually has. I am usually the one who likes Christmas movies (the Hallmark, and Lifetime ones…go ahead make fun of me), the ribbons, bows, etc. And don’t get me wrong, there are times when I have enjoyed them. Helping prepare our church for Christmas. Worshipping each Sunday at church. Watching the joy on my Charlie’s face while he picked out our Christmas tree. And taking Olivia to New York City for the first time to see the Frozen display at Saks 5th Avenue, and ice skate at Rockerfiller Center with Santa for the first time. But there has just been something about this season that hasn’t felt the same.
Does this Christmas feel different to you?
In these days, I have been reminded that in the time Jesus was born there probably wasn’t ribbons, and bows. There weren’t feel good holidays stories, or Santa Clause. There wasn’t Christmas trees, with ornaments, lights, and an angel on top (although there was a star that brought light, and an angel too!). There was nothing known as Christmas cheer, or holiday magic. No Christmas movies, or elf on the shelf to bring temporary joy.
And if what was going on in Mary and Joseph’s life is any indication of what was going to bring them peace and joy during their “Christmas” season, trust me, it wasn’t about what they were doing. No, it was about Who they were following. Who they were following, and the Promise that was to come.
Peace. Love. Joy. Expectancy. Adoration.
The theme of our Christmas this year at church we attend is “The Heart of Christmas”. At the beginning of the season, I designed a card for a friend where I wrote 5 words that, I believe, are part of the heart of Christmas. Peace, Joy, Love, Adoration, and Expectancy. I could have added a few other words to that like “hope’, “belief”, “trust”, and “faith”, but back to that in a second…
Last year, I bought my friend a deer ornament. It had to be the perfect one (you can read the story here and here). I searched in every store I could think of and couldn’t find one I knew she would like. Finally I found one online and hoped it was as beautiful as it looked, and it was. But there was a bit of a problem.
What was the problem?
When I bought the deer I didn’t realize how fragile they were. And as we all know, fragile things are easily broken.
The first one I ordered showed up really broken, as you can read. After 2 different orders, and more than 1 broken deer, between us we ended up with 4 deer, because I wanted her to have the perfect deer, and eventually she got it. And somehow the company ended up sending me extra, so I got 2 for myself! Good deal.
But when I saw it on display this year, one of the deer was broken. It had a missing piece to its antler. I took it home with me, so I could exchange my good one for the broken one, but when I woke up the next morning I realized something. Something that made me give her the perfect deer, but also give back the broken one.
And this is what I realized. Although it was broken, it was still standing.
And isn’t that a reflection of us? Created so intricately, and carefully by God, yet so easily broken. And this season you may feel broken. You may be aware of all the brokenness going on around you. You may be surrounded with sadness, sickness, disbelief, doubt, fears, and the awareness of the broken world we live in.
Who are you Jesus that the suffering on the innocent was worth it?
Beautiful one, I am with you there. And so was Mary. I mean, there was a mission going on to murder her baby. Baby Jesus.
As I was reflecting on this, I remembered the words I put on my friend’s card that I designed. Peace. Love. Joy. Adoration. Expectancy. These words, in a world of brokenness, aren’t exactly handed to you on a silver platter, are they?
And I didn’t realize it until this morning, but there was another word that is part of the heart of Christmas. And without it, we wouldn’t have the others.
Part of the heart of Christmas is endurance. And that is what Mary did. She endured. As she was carrying Christ, she endured. She isn’t much different than us. Well those, who God has found faithful anyway.
But here is the message. She kept going. She endured. And she endured all the way to the cross, and then the empty tomb, and to the resurrection, and beyond. And when she endured, she experienced, and lived that the promise was always true. She received the promise. She carried the Hope of the world.
And when you carry Jesus, you endure.
What is the heart of Christmas?
In a world of broknenss, what is the heart of Christmas? That although there is brokenness, His truth still prevails. That His peace is there for those on whom His favor rests. The promise He gives is true. His love still in unshakeable. He is still on the throne. He still stands.
And that although we are all broken, and although we live in a broken world, we can still stand firm, have His strength, because of Him, that we follow.
And this is what His word says about endurance. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. Romans 5: 3-5
This hope that doesn’t disappoint. Jesus.