I’m scurrying this morning. I’ve been preoccupied with Christmas decorating, amongst other things Christmas, all week. We’re still at the point when things look worse than when I started. Boxes are all over the floor. Last night’s dishes still aren’t taken care of, and they’re paper. The bare branches of the bottom of the Christmas tree look a little dejected. Since the kids have grown, all the ornaments go front and center. I fill in the sides and top, but I’m too lazy to bend down and fix the lower quarter.
Jason’s coming home after being gone this week. I thought I’d surprise him with a nice, clean and decorated house. (He’s not a fan of decorating, but isn’t everybody a fan of decoration?)
Trying to make everything look good I decided to try to sew a button on my red and black flannel shirt
- Because it’s Christmas-y (and it’s missing a button)
- Because apparently I’ve gone into “Fake Martha” mode where I pretend to have an interest in being busy all things home.
I enlisted the kids’ help this time. Our youngest is the only one who volunteers. I bribed one with food and Christmas money giving her various tasks, one being the task of setting up our dollar store nativity set. Not only did she not dust the table that it goes on (like I told her), she didn’t place the characters the way they go. Joseph isn’t looking at Baby Jesus like he’s supposed to. He’s looking at the shepherd. Here’s why.
The shepherd looks drunk.
He’s fallen back on two of the wisemen. They hardly look strong enough to hold him up.
Christmas almost always gets out of hand.
If things are going well we’re busy purchasing presents and figuring how to split our time to be a part of all the festivities. We’re reminded, even if tired and rushed, that we have financial means and we have “people”.
There are those out there who can’t wait for this season to be over already. Christmas is a dark time for those who are suffering hardship. There are those who are concerned with how they’ll pay the bills and put gifts under the tree. Others have scary medical results hanging over their heads. Still others will face Christmas without loved ones for the first time because of distance, divorce and death. I still carry with me some of the darkness that can surround the holiday. My family suffered a major loss when I was sixteen. Not one Christmas since then has been the same even though I love Christmas and still experience an unexplainable joy.
For some, these days are merry and bright. For others the dark is darker.
Here a few obvious things I’m remembering this Christmas. There’s not one of these things we aren’t aware of, only some we could use a little more practice in.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Shattered ornaments and back orders shouldn’t rate high on our list of grievances. Keep the trivial, trivial.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many obligations. We have a tendency to pack our schedule so tightly that enjoyment battles fatigue.
- Be mindful of the lost. Pray that the message of salvation would find its way to their hearts. Provide plenty of opportunity through living out the gospel and by extending invitations to your church and Christmas functions.
- Be mindful of those who are hurting. There are so many friends who will spend their first Christmas without their parents, a spouse, a sibling or a child. Pray for them. Visit them. Love on them.
- If you are “the hurting”, keep hope at the forefront. The first Christmas isn’t set in sunshine and jolly. Night and uncertainty shrouded the coming of Christ.
But the darkness was overcome.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised…
…my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32
That’s good news for drunken shepherds, fake Marthas and anyone else facing December.