Monday, December 8, 2008

A True Picture of Christmas

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (NKJV)

As the Christmas season is in full wing now, I want to take a break today from recipes and Christmas ideas, and think about something special to remember over the holidays this year.

Searching for just the right Christmas card to send to my friends and family is always something I put a lot of thought into. As I pondered over the variety of cards on the store shelves this year, I noticed they all had one thing in common. Whether the pictures showed lighted candles on a festive table, a warm fireplace with stockings hung in a row, a smiling family having Christmas dinner, or a blanket of new fallen snow in a moon-lit meadow, they all portrayed a feeling of serenity and peace.

Although I wish I could say those types of pictures signify holidays at my house, there are days when peace and serenity seems to be unattainable!

Around the middle of December each year, I often find myself yearning for that peace on the Christmas cards – the peace of perfect families, perfect gifts, perfect meals and perfect weather. But in my heart, I know that the real picture of peace is not found in any of those things, but only through seeing the holidays through the eyes of Jesus.

When I take my eyes off of the picture of the birth of Jesus, and instead focus on the birth of all the new holiday projects I think I need to take on, I begin to devote my time to the things that the world thinks are important, and not the things that Jesus thinks is important. Jesus does not care about how beautiful my Christmas tree is, how many candles I have lit in my windows, or how many presents I have under my tree.

Jesus cares about how many people I invited into my home to share in His birthday party, how many times I shared the light of His love with others, and how many times I was willing to put the needs of others before my own selfish wants and desires.

I came across an anecdote that was circulating the Internet last year around Christmas. It asked, "What if the three wise men were women?" The author answered the question with this response:

“If the wise men were women, they would have brought cooked food, clean diapers, and the skills of a midwife. They would have cleaned the stable, prepared a meal, shoved the animals out of the way and given sound advice about childcare. They would have been able to see through the evil intentions of the tyrant Herod and they would have escorted the newborn to a safe haven. They would have filed charges against Herod for child abuse and organized a non-violent rally. But the men, they brought unusable gold, and the inedible incense and myrrh. So impractical.”

Although this is a funny way to think of the differences between men and women, it provides a significant perspective on gift giving. The gifts that are most important to people cannot be found at the mall – gifts like helping someone in need, providing a meal for a needy family, visiting nursing home patients, helping an elderly neighbor decorate their home, loving our enemies, and praying with someone who is hurting.

These types of gifts require little or no financial expense from the giver, but are much more valuable than any practical gifts from a store. These are the gifts that once given open our hearts to receive God’s love and peace in abundance. When we know we have shown the love of Jesus to others, only then can we truly have the peace that is waiting for us at Christmas time. This verse in Luke above reiterates that truth, that we will have peace when God is pleased. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and this pleases God.

A real picture of peace at Christmas is not holidays with an absence of stress or strife, but a heart with a passion for Jesus and a love for sharing the gift of life that God gave us through the birth of His son.

Merry Christmas!

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A Simple Country Girl said...

When we keep our focus on God's gift to the world, our shift from giving presents to presence becomes easier and even more fulfilling. As always, thank you for your insight.


Angie said...

After reading your "cocoa" about Christmas, a song came back to me that I learned in church when I was young.

C is for the Christ child born on this day.
H for Herald angels in the night.
R is our Redeemer.
I means Israel.
S is for the Star that shown so bright.
T is for Three wise men, they who traveled far.
M is for the Manger where he laid.
A is for All he stands for.
S means Shepherds came.

That's why there's a Christmas Day.

Joyful said...

Tracie, yours is the second post I've read this morning with the same general theme.

Do you know that every Christmas I usually end up ill - so over-stressed that often a trip to the Emergency Dept at the hospital has occured by the New Year - seriously! Our home hosts the Christmas celebrations and dinners each year and I have such high expectations on myself to have them "picture perfect". Thank you for gently reminding me again of the TRUE picture of Christmas. I pray that this year I will not be bound by tradition, but seek the Christ-child as the Wisemen did and follow and do only those things where His star lights the way.

Longing for His peace through the season and every day,