There’s something terribly ironic about the way most people “celebrate” Christmas. Think about it:
We spend months (and more money than we can afford, usually) looking for and buying gifts for loved ones. . .and not-so-loved ones. (“I hope she appreciates this pot holder. *grumble!*”) I suspect many of us do this more out of a sense of obligation than out of a true desire to give. How can we be such uncheerful (and unsincere) givers at a time of year when we supposedly celebrate Christ leaving the splendour of heaven to walk among us a human and later give up His life for us?
Then there are the trimmings and trappings. We cook and clean and decorate and cook and clean and decorate. . .Our house has to be just perfect. What will the guests say if our home doesn’t look and smell Christmas-y enough? That’s another irony. Jesus was born in a stable, probably surrounded by noisy and smelly animals, unrefined shepherds and curious strangers. He was born to an inexperienced teenage girl and her nervous but faithful betrothed.
Jesus didn’t need beautiful surroundings because He knew something we often forget: Your “stuff” isn’t what defines who or what you are. Being born in a stable allowed the people around Him to focus on Him and who He was without being distracted by a state-of-the-art nursery. He didn’t mind having common, uneducated, unsophisticated people around Him because He knew that their worship and awe of Him was sincere.
Why are we so afraid of “messiness”? Why do we so easily cave in to the pressure to be organized, competent, even perfect? We do this not only in our “outer” lives but in our spiritual lives, too. We convince ourselves and others that we’re okay… when deep inside we may be empty, angry, confused about life and faith, afraid of eternity, or in need of God’s touch in our lives.
William McNamara said:
“I stake the future on the few humble and hearty lovers who seek God passionately in the marvelous, messy world of redeemed and related realities that lie in front of our noses.”
This Christmas, do enjoy your beautiful decorations and gifts, but I encourage you to let things get a little messy and to take time to think about Jesus and what His birth over 2,000 years ago means for you.
Does He have a place in your life? Why not be like the shepherds? Just drop whatever you’re doing and run to “visit” Him and see what all the excitement is about! I’m sure, like those shepherds, your life will never be the same.
© Ann-Margret Hovsepian, 2003