Christmas can be stressful. So much to do. Shopping, wrapping, cooking, decorating, lights, sights, parties, traditions, family, friends...
Last year, Christmas changed for our family. We were living in two places, Tillery and I were in Cincinnati at the Ronald McDonald House while Luke and Joe were at home in Chattanooga. It was hard to feel in the "Christmas spirit" as we were two halves, missing our whole. We weren't doing our normal Christmas things like putting up a tree, shopping for gifts, or planning family gatherings.
Instead, each half was doing it's own thing. Tillery and I attended the Ronald McDonald House Christmas party, we met 7 Santas, we decorated Christmas ornaments that would hang on a tree that was not our own, and we met many wonderful people who gave up their time to help make our holiday special. Joe and Luke attended church Christmas festivities, ate a lot of takeout, came home to an undecorated house, and saw Christmas hustle and bustle happening around them but weren't a part of it.
The week of Christmas, things got crazier as Tillery and I were both diagnosed with the flu and were put on isolation precautions in the hospital. We were finally discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve and Luke and Joe drove up late that night, arriving in the wee hours of Christmas morning.
We did not shop or wrap or go or do.
We woke up in a small room together. We opened donated gifts from the Ronald McDonald House. We ate a meal prepared by volunteers. We enjoyed each other and were grateful for all of our blessings.
It was a very humbling and growing experience. It allowed us to put our focus on what Christmas is really about: The Hope that comes from Jesus Christ.
See, our faith doesn't lie in the baby in the manger. Our faith is in the Risen Savior He becomes.
The Bible tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16-17
And there it is! God sent His Son, that baby born humbly in a manger, to SAVE the world!
Christmas is the time we celebrate not just the birth of Jesus, not just the life of Jesus, but the purpose of Jesus. He came to save us all. He came to give us the greatest gift of all. Eternal life.
This Christmas, try to take a deep breath. Try to look around and actually see the blessings in front of you. Remember, we have already been given the greatest gift. The gift of HOPE for eternal life.