Ann Voskamp writes in her Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, “…God is love and He can’t stand to leave us by ourselves, to ourselves. That is the message of Christmas. The message of Christmas is not that we can make peace. Or that we can make love, make light, make gifts, or make this world save itself. The message of Christmas is that this world’s a mess and we can never save ourselves from ourselves and we need a Messiah.”
For a child has been born—for us!
2016 has been a tough year and this Christmas season has been particularly rough for my extended family and several friends. Illness, injury and death seem to be around every corner. It’s been hard for me to get in the spirit of the holiday. There’s been no lack of holiday movies on my TV, and I’ve read all the Christmas romance novels. Still, the sheer delight of years past continues to elude me.
The gift of a son—for us!
Some of it is that our kids are older and don’t have the infectious anticipation of years past. And our adult family donates to charities in each other’s names. So there’s really no need to do much holiday shopping. We’ll be celebrating in another home this year so we’ve not gotten out many (okay, any) decorations.
Amazing Counselor, Strong God
But, in my heart, I feel a strange peace this year. Reading an Advent devotion each morning has kept me thinking about what Christmas truly means. And while all the festivities and trappings have their place, that’s not what we celebrate.
In the midst of the tragedies and disappointments of this year, that seem to just keep on coming, God is here. He whispers to my walled in heart, “I see you, daughter. I see what’s going on in your world and the world around you. I see and I am with you.” He wants me to take down the wall I’ve built. The one that keeps hurt, pain, disappointment at arm’s length so my heart won’t be broken. But it also keeps out joy.
Prince of Wholeness
Maybe what God wants us to know in this season is that it takes our hearts cracking wide to allow the real meaning of Christmas into the deepest parts of our soul. Making way for the peace of God to seep into our most wounded places. And with it – joy.
Yeah, Christmastime is here. And because of our losses, perhaps we’ll be more mindful of what we do have and those we get to share life with. Maybe we’ll listen more closely to our children, marveling that God in His wisdom chose us to be their parents. Could be we’ll put down our phones and look into the eyes of family and friends while chatting over Christmas ham—and see joy!
And maybe we’ll remember the Messiah came to be the Gift.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
The joy of a great celebration,
sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
Isaiah 9:2-3a The Message Bible
Read our other Christmas posts from this week:
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Hey there friend! Andrea McCaskey here. I believe everything happens for a reason, life is meant to be lived in relationship with others and there is beauty to be found everywhere if we look. I am a friend of God, wife of Jamal and mother of Brandon and Madison.
To read more of Andrea’s Breath on Paper bio, click here.