First I must confess, I LOVE Christmas! I have since as far back as I can remember. Everything about Christmas brought a smile to my face and memories to my heart. Don’t get me wrong, they have not always been peaceful and filled with wonder and joy because life is real and doesn’t stop because it is Christmas time or because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Sickness still comes to some, death doesn’t stop, hurt and brokeness hasn’t evaporated, and there are those who are still looking for work and having money struggles. This year in particular, I seem to know more than my share of folks who find themselves in one or more of these situations and believe me there are many similar situations causing struggles in this world. For the third time in my many years I found myself really struggling with getting into the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas because even though I try to spend time daily with the Lord, Christmas is a special time we set aside to celebrate the birth and life of our Saviour. So what do I do?
Resolved: Take charge of these run-away feelings! It has definitely been a challenge and a work in progress! How? I picked up Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” from my local bookstore in hopes of reminding myself everyday from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day of all the reasons there are to slow my pace, celebrate, rejoice and make room – to prepare my heart, remember what really matters.
These are some of the verses I have run across in the process, I share them because they have been very meaningful and helpful in putting aside my feelings and in my preparing my heart.
“The days are coming” — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is what He will be named: Yahweh Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:5, 6 HCSB)
Micah 5:2-4 MSG
But you, Bethlehem, David’s country, the runt of the litter— From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel. He’ll be no upstart, no pretender. His family tree is ancient and distinguished. Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes until the birth pangs are over and the child is born, And the scattered brothers come back home to the family of Israel. He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God ’s strength, centered in the majesty of God -Revealed. And the people will have a good and safe home, for the whole world will hold him in respect— Peacemaker of the world!
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 HCSB)
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.
It’s Christmas time – my Christmas wish is that we see beyond the gifts, lights and trimmings of Christmas to the very heart of Christmas – Jesus Christ. His coming brought us a bridge to relationship with God and a chance to have everlasting life and that would have been enough. Jesus did not stop there though, He came to bring good news to the poor; to heal the broken-hearted; freedom for captives and prisoners; the Lord’s favour instead of vengeance; comfort and joy for mourners; beauty for ashes; praise instead of despair; to make us oaks of righteousness, a display of His splendour this is what is ours when we have a relationship with Jesus. May you have the merriest of Christmas’s and a wonder-filled 2014 and if or when storms come may the Prince of Peace meet you right there in the midst!!