Parties. Beautiful music. Gifts. Bright lights. Family gatherings. Children filled with excitement. And so much delicious food. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But what do you do when the most wonderful time of the year is not the most wonderful time of the year for you because you’re overwhelmed by grief, fighting depression, watching your marriage come unraveled or seeing people you love destroy their lives? The worst thing you can do is deny how you feel, pretend everything is fine or conclude the problem is you. The best thing you can do is hold on to for dear life to the one thing that truly matters about Christmas: God loves you so passionately that God has gotten as personally involved as possible in real life to bring real forgiveness, real healing and real hope.
Whether you’ve written it down or not, you have a Christmas wish list. Sometimes it’s made up of fun things - a ‘toy’ (after all, adults like them, too), clothes, or a trip to that exotic beach you’ve been dreaming about for years. At other times, it’s a whole lot more serious - a healed marriage, someone you love finally embracing sobriety, or the fog of depression that envelops you finally lifting. And, whether you’re aware of it or not, your list always includes things God puts on it – no child will ever be unloved, there will be real peace on earth, all people will have adequate food, shelter, work and medical care, and every single person - including you - will experience the fullness of God’s love. Christmas is quickly approaching. So maybe it’s time to get to work on your Christmas wish list. As you do, make sure that God’s wishes are at the top of your list.
It doesn’t matter what painful baggage you carry, why others have ill-informed opinions about you or how complicated your life is. You’re a beloved child of God. This isn’t just pie-in-the-sky thinking that will be true at some distant time in the future. It’s a fact right now because God guarantees it. So do whatever it takes to grab hold of the identity God’s longing for you to live. Sure, it may threaten to turn your well-ordered life upside down. But that’s okay. In fact, it may actually be the best thing that could ever happen to you. That’s because God’s grace doesn’t just hold your life together with bailing wire, bubble gum and duct tape so you can keep experiencing more of what you’re experiencing right now. God’s grace plants you firmly in the heart of God. Which is exactly where God has created you to live for all eternity – beginning right now.
When we are dazzled by the Christmas decorations
- help us see the Light of the world in the manger.
When we are enthralled by the beautiful carols
- help us clearly hear the angels proclaiming Good News.
When we enjoy our cherished traditions
- help us embrace the reality of the Incarnation.
When we are excited about the coming of Christmas
- help us prepare for Your amazing gift.
Yes, Lord, help us.
Help us be ready for Your mysterious coming.
As one of us.
In the muckiness of real life.
With real love that really changes everything.
Help us know You come again and again and again.
Into our lives.
To embrace us as we are.
Healing us from the inside out.
Help us experience the miracle of your Light.
Shining in us.
Into the lives of others.
Yes, Lord, help us.
For we are ready.
So very ready.
Just like You.