It has been a very interesting Christmas season this year. I’m not sure exactly what has made it so different. Perhaps it is because this is the first year that I am actively engaged in the anti-trafficking community and have been trying to figure out what this season looks like for others. Perhaps it is because I am preparing to move to Bangkok and I am trying to imagine what Christmas might be like without all of the commercialization. Perhaps it is the lasting impact of Heather Zempel’s message on the Covenant.
Whatever the reason, this year everything feels different. I’m not really excited about the Christmas tree. Presents I could really take or leave. Outside of the 714 band’s remakes, the music is kind of…..eh. I prefer pretty much every other creation of a singer/songwriter.
I’m sure it has always been this way, but this year I sharply feel a disconnect between the actual reason for celebrating and most of the rest of what is going on in anticipation of the Holiday.
I recognize that my attitude kind of rivals Dr. Seuss for the characterization of The Grinch. However, the disconnect I feel from the “Christmasy” stuff has caused me to go back to Luke and try to figure out what it is about Christmas that I really want to connect with. What is it about the Christmas story that wants to seep deep into my heart?
I’m not sure how it has taken me almost 29 years to ask this question.
So often I view Jesus simply as a welcome addition to my life. He is so convenient, so wonderful, so helpful. I don’t even always view Him that way. Sometimes I view His ‘imposition’ on my life as obnoxious, and as getting in the way of my plans. This is so far away….not even remotely close to the way that Jesus views me. The Christmas story reflects how much His focus is on my best and how His interest in me is not ancillary; it is absolute.
One of the things that strikes me first in reading the Christmas story is that this series of events did not just come out of nowhere. People had been talking about this for a very long time. God laid the coming of the Messiah on the hearts of prophets way back in the time of Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
I know this part we Churchies have heard a million times….about how God took on human form so that He could come and be with us. But, seriously. God took on human form so that He could come and be with us! I’m not sure how theologically sound my phrasing of this concept is, but the crux of the matter is that Heaven is better than earth. Jesus came to earth from Heaven for thirty years for our benefit! If it wasn’t enough for Him to do that, He did so in the most humble way possible – via human birth, delivered to a regular human couple in a freaking barn. This was not an exalted event. Nobody even knew except a few designated people; some shepherds and some wise men.
What is the point, and what is the application for today? I’m not sure about trees and presents and music and food. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with these things – traditions can be super fun. What I DO know is that the Christmas story happened in a certain way for a certain reason. Jesus practiced outward focus, grace and humility His entire life. He set things up so that I could seek His best for my life for my entire life.
So, this Christmas season, I am going to ask myself how I can live my life like Jesus. Christmas is an extremely painful time for a lot of people. In the midst of celebration and togetherness, there is also the presence of loneliness and jabbing memories. Perhaps being like Jesus means spending time with people who would otherwise be alone. Or, taking some money that would have gone to that awesome thing you wanted to buy and buying a gift for somebody who wouldn’t get a Christmas gift. Or, simply asking God to show you how you can be more outward-focused this season.
He will let you know. I promise.
See below for a list of ways that you can help Survivors this season.
International Justice Mission (local and abroad):https://secure3.convio.net/ijm/site/SPageNavigator/HGC_Home.html
Fair Girls (local): @FAIR_Girls
More shopping to get done this weekend? Visit us 12/14-12/24 at the @TysonsGalleria gift wrap! http://ow.ly/i/1f2r6
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