I love our house at Christmas time. The lights on our tree give our living room a peaceful glow. My miniature village hides the dust on the piano, and the garland draws the eye away from the stained carpet and scratched wood floor.
But I know in January, the Christmas clutter will have worn on me and I’ll be quick to haul boxes of nativities, candles, and fake village-snow back to the basement.
Because face it. How can anyone live with Christmas?
Who can endure the mess, clutter, and chaos …like when a pregnant teenager has to give birth in a stable far from home?
Who can live with such hype and so many unmet expectations … like when a long awaited King shows up as an infant?
Who can live with such cost … like when an innocent man gives his life for the guilty?
The Christmas story we display – and the one we tell the world – is sweet. But if we live with it long enough, it makes us uneasy and forces us to deal with what’s behind the scenes.
And just when Christmas starts to do its work on me, I’m out.
Thanks for visiting, Baby Jesus. No, don’t worry… I’ll clean up this mess myself. See you next time…
As soon as the final silver bell is rung, I put Jesus in a box and recreate my life; small and tidy and just the way I like it – even if it means having to dust more often and endure the scratched-up parts. I’m happy to settle for less – if the more scares the jingle bells out of me.
Oh, sure, if I pour myself a cup of tea and guard my quiet time, I can muster up the sweetness of Christmas whenever I want. If I redecorate my living room and spruce up my heart, I can deal with a little clutter for a while.
But Jesus didn’t come for mustering, for tidying-up, or so I can deal. He didn’t come for a visit or so I can endure. He came to live with me in the cold of winter and in the heat of July.
He came to be the answer behind every Christmas wish:
Can an unworthy sinner live with a holy God?
This January, I don’t want to “get back to normal”. I want to pack away the nativity only to make room for more. Even if it threatens my need to be in control. Even if it’s messy.
This Christmas, I hope the soft glows of Christmas blind me and bring me new vision. I want the knowledge of God with me to shake up my quiet times and spill my Chamomile.
I like Christmas. I crave January. But I need Emmanuel.
I need a Christmas story that can’t be packed away. I need to know the One who can make real changes and rewrite the narrative of my life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Christmas begins with the Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes, but in January, we’ll need the One who stays to comfort mothers who grieve at the evil done by the Herods of the world.
Christmas begins with the Angles singing to shepherds, but in January, we’ll need the One who stands in my place before the Pontius Pilates of my soul.
Christmas begins with a stable that’s transformed into a nursery, but in January, we’ll need the One who stays to bring life from death and promises to make a life like mine into a beautiful thing.
I enjoy Christmas, but I was made for Emmanuel. And so were you.
This year, don’t pack anything away until you encounter the One who came to stay.
“My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Ezekiel 37:27