November 29, 2023
Hope for Our Imperfect Christmases
Lee en español
"and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." Luke 2:7 (NIV)
"Is this how you pictured Christmas morning?" My husband leaned over our kids' heads and grinned at me, a twinkle in his eyes.
Why, no. It was not.
From our toddler's hand-foot-and-mouth disease to my husband's sudden flu to the stomach virus running through our family to my own first-trimester morning sickness ... our home looked more like a hospital ward than a Hallmark movie.
We missed the Christmas Eve candlelight service. We missed caroling with our neighbors. We missed Christmas lunch at my mom's house. We missed unwrapping presents with nieces and nephews. All my favorite Christmas traditions? We missed them all.
But in the midst of the disappointments, God opened my eyes to see joy all around:
Our toddler coloring ornaments with Jesus' names on them ...
Listening to the Christmas story from The Jesus Storybook Bible ...
Watching the Nativity movie for the third time in three days ...
There were plenty of reminders that Jesus came not to offer us picture-perfect holidays but to offer us His very presence amid our imperfections.
God Himself came into our world, entering a first-century Palestine that was restless under Roman rule. He was born to a poor couple exhausted after an arduous journey. The birth of the Son of God lacked glitz and glamor, aside from the angels' performance for lowly shepherds (Luke 2:9-14). This nativity didn't look pretty, smell good or even feel comfortable: "She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (Luke 2:7).
I wouldn't want my own children to be born in a barn - let alone the Son of God. But those things we'd consider less than perfect about Jesus' birth were divinely orchestrated by God Himself.
And here we find the gift of Christmas: God with us in the midst of our mess, making the messy moments holy in His presence.
Immanuel means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23, NIV).
God with us in our chronic illness.
God with us in our family dramas.
God with us in our financial difficulties.
God with us in our unknown futures.
No matter what your Christmas season will look like - whether it's exactly what you imagined or the exact opposite of your holiday dreams - bring it all to Jesus anyway.
He's with you in the mess, and He's making your messy moments into holy ones. Because our Immanuel God is with us.
Lord, thank You for inviting us to celebrate Jesus even when our "perfect" holiday plans fall apart. Please open our eyes to see Your goodness all around us, and soften our hearts to receive the gift of Your presence with us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Asheritah Ciuciu's beautiful Advent devotional, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, has helped over 150,000 families discover the beauty of Jesus by relishing His names one at a time. Click here to order your copy today.
Looking for an easy way to rest in Immanuel? On the Prayers of REST podcast during the Advent season, Asheritah's calming voice will guide you in praying through 10 of Jesus' wonderful names. Listen to one episode a day, or stream all 10 prayers at once: Come, let us adore Him!
And if you have little hands to keep busy this Christmas season, download and print out Asheritah's "Names of Jesus" coloring ornaments. Great for kids around holiday tables (and fun for adults who like to color, too!), this resource is Asheritah's gift to our community this week. Download the coloring ornaments here!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Luke 1:46-48a, "And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant" (NIV).
How was the Lord mindful of Mary's humble state - both before and after Jesus' birth?
This Christmas season, how might you invite God to upend your holiday expectations in order to bring about His own plans in your life? Leave a comment sharing your insights or holiday prayer requests, and let's pray for one another.
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