I love liking all the positive, encouraging pastors, ministries and Christ-centered organizations on Facebook. Because my newsfeed is filled with positive, encouraging, Christ-centered messages throughout the day. Today, a pastor posted this prompt:
“Share your best family traditions to keep Christmas Christ centered.”
And I really liked this request. It stopped me in my tracks as I read it in the midst of cleaning the tops of my kitchen cabinets so I could adorn them with our Christmas village. And as I looked around the room with Christmas decorations literally overtaking my house as I try to dress it for “The Season”, I pondered. What do we do during this season as a family that keeps Christ in the center? Because the truth is, the ugly truth of it all is, I couldn't care less about decorating for Christmas. I really find it a nuisance I don’t enjoy even when it’s done. I do it for someone else. It means something to the Chef so because of that alone it means something to me. But I could go the whole year without one hall decked to the nines in red and green. But I will say the joy it brings my children and my husband does make it worth it. Mostly.
And we are in memory making years, tradition establishing territory. Our kids are young and we’re trying to set precedents. And Pinterest makes me feel like a failure before I’ve even begun. What are my kids going to remember about their childhood Christmas seasons? And what do I really want them to remember?
So back to the question at hand. What do we do to center this season around Christ? Because that is the only thing I want my kids to remember. That there was no hoopla, only Christ.
And in that very moment, I realized I was trying so desperately to squeeze in all these things to keep Christ in the center that I squeezed Christ right out. So on the third day of December, I decided to simplify all my plans. The day after Advent began, I realized that “the Coming” is the only thing that matters and maybe it’s in emulating the character of Christ that helps us anticipate Him the most. Because when we try our best to love our neighbor, to be humble, to be patient, to give beyond ourselves, to bind up the broken hearted and set the captive free, we fail miserably compared to Him. And so the waiting for His presence is so much more anticipated and we watch the clouds with a deep longing, alert and ready for Him to fill in our weaknesses with His strength, our failings with His grace.
I mean numbered doors are nice, tinsel and lights are pretty, but the the Babe tells us what He wants. “Give unto the least of these and you have given to me. Love your neighbor as yourself. Pick up your cross and follow me." Can this be stuffed behind doors or must it be cultivated in hearts?
This time of year isn’t really a time to ramp up but to slow down, to be watchful and to wait for His coming. His presence coming into our lives in a new way. Because we stopped. And we watched. And we expected. And we believed. And He was pretty clear about that, too. “Your faith has healed you. Get up and go. Because of your faith, you now can see. Because of your faith… Just believe.” I think my faith tends to get tangled in the tinsel this time of year.
So for the next 22 days, we will unfold the Christmas story slowly. It's in the slow that family memories are seared into hearts. And the wonder will come not from anything that is seen but from all that is yet to come. And we will wait… expectantly, as a family. And we will prepare our hearts room to “believe the unbelievable”, as a family. And as we wait for the Messiah to come, to reveal Himself to us in a new way, we will focus on showing those around us, including each other, what we already know by the way we live, by the way we love, as a family. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. Full of grace and truth. A Savior, born in a manger to die on a cross… for all the people, all for love. Unbelievable?
What do you need to believe this Christmas season? That with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)? A baby can be born of a virgin and Light can overtake the darkness. Believe. And watch what happens in those hopeless, dark places as the Light of the world comes crashing in with power and glory. It’s almost time. Come. Adore.