Wednesday, December 16

A Vision of Hope: Christ at Christmas


Here is what I've been thinking about lately...

We need a savior as much, no, maybe more today, than ever before.

We need hope. We need vision. We need truth. Solid, concrete, black and white truth to plant our feet on.

We don't need another politician spouting off extreme ideas to the left or to the right. We don't need another national news anchor asking questions of another "expert" who is trying to form our ideas of what is right or wrong, in their opinion. We don't need another agenda pushing us towards hatred, or some preconceived idea of safety, or what real acceptance means.

While I can't speak for all of you, I know I don't need one more person yelling, tweeting, shouting, blasting, writing, proclaiming, arguing, or debating their truth, all while trying to mold mine.

I want my truth to be founded in something stronger than that. Something more solid. I want my truth to have history, grit and foundation. I want it to be founded on principles that have stood the test of time.  I need something to plant my feet on that doesn't waver with the wind, or some big personality with an agenda who is trying to appease the popular opinion for votes or ratings.

In this crazy, backwards, confusing culture, I am drawing closer and closer to the one and only thing that has made a difference in my faith in Christ. The crazier and more chaotic the world gets, the clearer my vision becomes. With so many voices overwhelming my mind, I need to focus on just one.

And that is what Christmas is all about.

That we are not left alone in the mess, but that Jesus has stepped into with us. More than 2,000 years ago he came as a baby and has been here ever since.

I'm thankful for that because on most days some part of my life is pretty messy.

On the best days, it's just my house...oh could I show you some pictures of that.

On other days it's my response to people around me, my insecurities about life and direction, my inability to consistently be the woman I want to be, my confusion about how to raise my kids in this culture, or how to just love that difficult neighbor down the street or parent at our child's school.

On all days, it's the world around me, and everything in it that can so easily overwhelm.

But, we do have hope. We can have vision. Truth, real truth, is right at our fingertips. They are all just a prayer away...a prayer sent as a simple invitation to Christ that he is welcomed into your mess.

I know, I know! Inviting someone into the mess seems a little...audacious! We've been taught that we're supposed to clean up the house, ourselves, our attitude, our mess...before we invite others in.

But Jesus, fortunately,  is the countercultural, upside down answer to your deepest questions...He hasn't been doing things the way they were supposed to be done since the moment he arrived.

If your Christmas season is feeling frenzied and chaotic, if you are feeling distracted, discouraged or overwhelmed, if you feel like you've wanted to experience the Advent season in a deeper way, but are feeling like you've failed to do so, it's not too late! There are still 9 days until Christmas and many options for digging deeper.

Start with a simple prayer of invitation, asking Christ to be present in your Christmas preparations and your day to day. Ask him to show you how to go deeper and love better.

You can follow up with a re-reading of  the story of Jesus birth, The Birth of Jesus, Luke 2:1-20 just to help freshen your perspective and center yourself spiritually.

Lastly, there are hundreds of great articles online and devotional books you can buy that help us to slow down and refocus on what really matters...Here are three great articles that I found just this morning to get you started:

What Kind of Christmas Do you Want this Year, by Julie Hildebrand --this article is from the site (in) Courage, a great website for Christian women full of daily inspiration from some great writers.

Free Advent Devotional from Billy Graham-- A free, downloadable advent devotional. The intention was to use this once a week for the four weeks of advent leading up to the celebration of Christ's birth, but I say hey, we have more than 5 days between now and Christmas so it's not to late to start!

Christmas, A Personal Promise  a scripturally based reminder from Reverend Charles Stanley about the promises of Christmas. This website is a great resource all year round and is a place I often turn to for a good devotional or article when I need encouragement or good Biblical perspective. Their ministry also sends a free monthly devotional book that you can sign up to receive and that is very well written.

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God with us'." Matthew 1:23