I love Christmas cards. I always put it on my to do list in early November, “Get family picture for Christmas card”. And then usually around December 1, I shamelessly bribe everyone to just get it done before it’s too late.
But there is also this part of me that wonders if it really is worth it as it creates a whole new section for my to do list – to get a picture, order the cards, address the cards, mail the cards. So, when I’m looking at all the cards and trying to weed out to get my favorite as quickly as possible – the ones I’m drawn to are obviously the very Christian ones - the ones that say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Season’s Greetings” (insert political correctness joke here), the ones that have words of Joy, Peace, and Love.
But then this last week, when I finished making the Christmas cards, all too quickly I was yelling at my kids and stressing over how much I have to get done in such a short amount of time. It’s like I’m single-handedly sucking the joy, love, and peace out of my own home.
It’s this crazy ironic thing that we know as Christians that Jesus’s incarnation is the best possible news and yet we often manage to make Christmas the most stressful time of year. So, as I sat down to write this devotional for our church's women's Christmas brunch, I needed encouragement myself because my to do list is still too long. So, I thought it would be nice to look at just a little snippet of the Christmas story…
I love that when the angel first spoke to the shepherds after Jesus was born, he basically said, “Don’t be afraid, I bring the Gospel.”
It was good news to those shepherds that Israel's long awaited Savior had been born. We know that but also have the fullness of the good news that Christ has accomplished everything for us. Like those lowly shepherds, we don’t have to be afraid.
There are lots of things we could be fearful of this holiday season. The stress and the family problems that become more obvious around the holidays. The fear of other people not approving of the choices we’re making. And especially the fear, that maybe we don’t even realize we have, that God is looking at us disappointed or apathetic.
I love how Isaiah 41:10 speaks to this (and to you and me today).
Our God wants to help us when we feel weak. He wants us to trust in him even when it’s hard. He is there upholding us, which means he’s making sure we don’t lose it all even when it feels like that’s the only option. It’s when we aren’t trusting in Him alone because of Christ's work on our behalf that we end up being filled with fear that only makes our daily lives worse.
It seems like especially at Christmas, we need to run back to God and be trusting in the Gospel. This is hard because it can feel like the help we want is to be able to finish everything perfectly - do better Advent readings as a family, host more events, give better presents. You probably have at least a few more things you could add to this list.
But really God’s help for us is to recognize what we already have - the joy, love, and hope we have in Him and to make us more like Christ.
Our joy doesn’t and can't come from the Christmas season, it comes from Christ alone.
This probably means you won't get everything done on your ideal Christmas to do list, even if you write it down. But it does mean that you need to remind yourself (and those around you!) that God is the one upholding you. When He looks at you (and all your obvious failures and half finished lists) he only sees Jesus’s perfection.
What a relief for us to be able to rest in that as we celebrate the Gospel as the very reason that Jesus came to Earth as a baby.
Originally published December 10, 2016.