Hope for Christmas

I wrote this for last year’s Christmas newsletter. Despite all that has happened in 2020, I think it still applies, so I decided to share it again. If you’re not quite ready for Christmas, you’re not alone! I hope this helps.

Thoughts on Faith:

When I sat down to write this month’s newsletter, I’d planned to talk about the New Year. December is my favorite time for dreaming and reflecting. Outside, nature slows down, reminding us that it’s okay to pause, too.
However, over the past few weeks, I’ve listened to friends and bumped into strangers who are struggling with Christmas. While I hope this letter finds you full of joy and good health, I’m sure you wouldn’t have to look too far to find someone in need of kindness.
There are broken hearts. Family rifts. Disappointments of every shape and size.
At church, we talk about Advent being a season of preparation. We prepare our hearts to receive the gift of Jesus.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Mary on that first Christmas. Mary had many wonderful qualities, but when we picture her placing baby Jesus in a manger, the word “prepared” doesn’t exactly spring to mind. Nesting probably looked different back then, but even so, no one wants their baby’s nursery to be a stable. I’m sure she would’ve preferred to be near her family instead of 70 miles away from home.

I think it says a lot about God that He didn’t wait for Mary to get herself organized or “more together” before Jesus arrived. God could’ve chosen a different time and place. Instead, He picked the moment before she was ready when she probably felt like a failure.
That’s the thing about Jesus. He doesn’t wait for us to sort things out before He arrives. He shows up here. Now.
Preparing our hearts is a noble idea and a worthwhile way to spend our time. Still, perhaps it’s comforting to know that there’s nothing we can do to be fully prepared.
Jesus is not waiting for you to finish decorating so you can put your feet up and start thinking holy, spiritual thoughts. He’s not waiting for your family to reconcile, so He can finally show up and bless your celebration. He’s not holding out until good news arrives in the mail.
He is Emmanuel. God with us. He shows up in the middle of the mess.
Things might feel chaotic or stressful or disappointing right now, but Jesus says, I’m here. “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
As Christmas approaches, I don’t know what you’re facing—great joy or mind-numbing sorrow or, most likely, something in-between—but if you can still fumble your way to the front door, there’s one guest you might want to invite in early.
He won’t mind that things aren’t finished or perfect. He’s not bothered by stuff that’s tarnished or broken. And He’d never ask you to put on a brave face and pretend that everything’s okay when it’s not.
In fact, He’d love to show up early and help you with all that. I’ve needed His help this entire season. This has been my prayer (and perhaps it’s yours too):
Lord, I’m so grateful that You don’t wait for us to get our acts together. Instead, You offer us the gift of Yourself. Help us to be willing to acknowledge the things that are broken or imperfect and release them into your care. Above all, I pray that You would give us the courage to leave the doors of our hearts unlocked.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! I’m taking a few weeks off so I can rest, play, dream, and plan. I look forward to seeing you in January.

Thank you for being here!

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