One of the most cliche quotes we hear is, “home is where the heart is.” When we are preparing our hearts, we are often preparing our homes to welcome people into as well. When we welcome people into our heart and homes, we are called to be vulnerable with them.
In this season, we have so many obligations and to dos. For us alone, we have to finish buying gifts, we have to pack our bags, wrap our gifts, my husband Christopher has two fire company Santa runs, we have a family Advent party, and probably a million other things I can not think of off the top of my head. IN a season of wanting to spend time with people, making sure we make it to every party, of wanting to go Christmas caroling, ice skating, gingerbread house making, and the list goes on. But we have to realize that it is okay to say "no" to the world so that we can make time to prepare for the Lord, to make sure that we have time to spend with our family and not just make another obligation of Christmas.
So as we close in towards Christmas day, I know that I often have, lost sight of the Christmas season being about Jesus. I am so caught up in gift buying, cookie making, and house decorating that when I am setting up my Nativity I lose sight that this nativity is supposed to remind me of the true reason for Christmas. Every single time we say "Merry Christmas" we are stating right there what this holiday is about… Christ.
Imagine coming into your living room on Christmas day and under your Christmas tree, or where ever you see/ put the gifts, you see one that you didn’t see there the night before. You’re intrigued. These thoughts run through our mind: “Where did this gift come from?” “Who is this gift for?” “What is it?”
Pretty lights everywhere! Snowmen in our front yards right next to Santa on our roof or the life-size nativity set in front for all to see! We see commercials where we can find all the discounts of Christmas décor. Decorating our homes and our rooms for Christmas can be a great tradition and a fun way for the family to spend time together. But we are constantly bombarded with a spirit of doing! We can feel obligated to decorate and buy when sales are on. These things can be a distraction just like how Martha was distracted by serving.
Decorating the Christmas Tree, decorating the house, going to see Santa, shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts, cutting down the Christmas tree; these all may be on the list of family traditions you have. When we think of the religious traditions we have in our own families, it is a much shorter list.
So who’s on social media? Got a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? If you don’t, you’re not missing out.
The irony of social media is it’s supposed to connect us to people, right? Yet, I see it all the time: a couple of friends at a coffeeshop, for example, or out to dinner — and they’re all on their devices updating their profiles!
Being a teacher, my time during Christmas is a little more enjoyable than most people. I get about two weeks off to enjoy with family and friends, to go shopping, to clean my house a million times, to decorate beyond reason, to wrap presents beyond belief and to bake an unreasonable amount of cookies. But I find the most trying part and difficult part of Christmas is the pressure of making memories with those that we are spending our time with.
As we start to think about the weeks leading up to Christmas and the weeks after Christmas, we think about all of the parties and obligations we have. The true question is, are we exhausting ourselves with trying to make it to every party and every Christmas Bazaar, to say that we were there and that we put our time in? Are we counting these obligations as family time? Are we really savoring each moment with our loved ones or are we just checking it off on our to-do list of Christmas.
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." - John 15:11
It seems every year, the excitement to buy gifts starts earlier and earlier. Retailers entice us with sales, promotions, limited supply items, etc. AND! Simultaneously creating mass hysteria.
Who has problems? We all have problems. Some more than others but none the less, we are all human and flawed and broken. Christ came to redeem that brokenness.
“Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.”
- John 1O:1O.
We all know the story of Mary and Martha. If you don’t, that's ok, just read Luke 10:38-42. Martha was busy and distracted with serving. Serving is a good thing. We talk about service a lot and there are many forms of service but the way Martha was going about it, caused this good thing to become a distraction from Christ himself who was right in front of her. She was not present to the presence of God.
These days seem to be pretty stressful. If we're the ones that are not stressed we can easily think of someone who is. We all have different situations that stress us out and can weigh us down. Maybe not enough money to get the essentials let alone gifts, not being able to see family members, maybe we're angry at certain people, stress from work, kids, friends, husband, accidents, a death of a loved one. All of these things can lead us to anger, shame, fear, indifference, wanting to give up.
Even before Jesus was born, He faced rejection.
His mother and foster father had to make do with bringing Him into the world in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Just shortly after His birth, His parents had to flee to Egypt because of Herod who wanted to destroy Him!
“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
These were the words Mary’s cousin Elizabeth exclaimed as Mary showed up at her house. What a beautiful gift that was. For Elizabeth to be filled by the Holy Spirit as Mary carried Jesus inside of her, closer to Elizabeth. And for Mary, to have her cousin, someone she loved and trusted, to understand and believe her and what she was going through.
So the craziness is upon us. The time of year where we have approximately one month to decorate for Christmas, to buy all our gifts, to go to Christmas parties, to throw Christmas parties, and to bake cookies and sweets beyond reason. It is a month long time completely filled to the brim with preparation.
I want to start today’s post with a DARE. Because I’m a changemaker, a leap-of-faith taker, and I fully believe God created me to shake things up a bit (in a good way) :)
I DARE you....
When I think of what must have been a very draining + disheartening journey to prepare for the birth of Jesus — I honestly can’t imagine how Mary mustered up the strength to set all her worries aside and look at the bright side.
Is it possible for miracles to exist on a smaller scale, throughout day-to-day life? Without gaining the attention of the world? Without an official blessing from the Church?