My Christmas tree is propped in the corner of my living room, tilted a little to the right. Ornaments litter the top half of the tree while the bottom half sits bare from the hands of little thieves. (Eh-hmm… specifically, my 1 year old, Dutchy!) Atop my tree, all prickly and dry, sits a glittery white star, iridescent and old; jewels missing and wires bent.
We have a Christmas tree. We have stockings. I have even perched a jolly stuffed Santa on my mantle, clinging tightly to painted piece of wood which reads, “Believe in Santa”. And, then, to my left sits a plastic manger, perfect for teensy sticky hands to touch and hold. Jesus is missing though. He has been lifted from the stable and placed amongst the other toys, somewhere, unknown. I silently laugh as I say to myself…”Attention Everyone: JESUS HAS LEFT THE MANGER!”
But then, I sit here, in my living room, looking at my crooked, half decorated tree and the empty manger, and then to my rosy-cheeked Santa, wondering to myself if this is the praise my God deserves as I celebrate the coming of his one and only son. Maybe Jesus leaving my smudgy manger wasn’t a bad thing… maybe he left on purpose… and maybe, that is what I need.
The fact is that this holiday, the plastic baby Jesus wrapped in a stark white blanket, and surrounded by golden piles of lush soft hay is not who I seek.
This year, I need the real Jesus to show up. My family has experienced crisis. Since the week after thanksgiving, I have had a close family member in the hospital, fighting to regain his life. I am looking for a miracle this Christmas, the type of miracle that only Jesus himself can accomplish.
The Jesus I am looking for does not fit in the plastic manger on my in-table, and he will not be sliding down my chimney on December 24 in the form of a Saint named Nicholas. Nope. And, also, no light display can compare to the glory of the Jesus I pursue.
The power of my Jesus totally eclipses this other “stuff”… this “stuff” that Christmas has become. God did not send Jesus Christ to this earth in the form of a tiny baby, so that I could give my child a Star Wars action figure this Christmas. For me to believe this and perpetuate this belief is ridiculous and boils down to blasphemy.
Lord, this Christmas am I like Rachel, in the book of Genesis, who hides her father’s idols in the bags of her saddle…clinging so tightly to tradition that I am unable to reach for Jesus?! I pray not.
Jesus Christ came in the form of an innocent baby, to break the curse of sin and death, and give me HOPE. A HOPE THAT THRILLS MY WEARY AND DEFEATED HEART….
Hope for the one who is fighting to get his life back, hope for the Mother who has lost her son, hope for widow and the fatherless, and hope for the poor and the meek. Nothing about Jesus’s life represented abundance, or wealth, or glitter and tinsel, or fame and fortune… Jesus’s message was about becoming less, expecting nothing, and recognizing the FREE act of faith. How then friend did Satan twist such a beautiful story, with a lowly message into a celebration causing debt, guilt and heartache? (<-- That's for another post...)
This Christmas I need Jesus.
I come to him on my knees, touching his garment of healing for my friend with cancer… I come before him carrying my dear loved one pleading … I come to him afraid, and yet believing… I come to him at the end of my rope, seeking hope and trusting in his promise.
I look at the empty manger, and I am thankful; more than thankful… I REJOICE. I am eternally grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ, but friends HIS gift lies beyond the stable…. I need him to walk the earth, to die, to be resurrected and to sit by the father and be my intercessor to the most Holy God.
Thanks for reading, friend.
Romans 10:9- If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.