The Perfect Christmas

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

I have spent many years searching for the elusive perfect Christmas. Some years, I have agonized over the perfect Christmas picture. I have tried to create the perfect Christmas memories…perfect Christmas cookies…searched for the perfect Christmas gifts. In past years, stress would overwhelm me as I looked at the calendar and tried to squeeze everyone and everything in. I resented the demands on our time…the running around, trying to please everyone in our large extended family. Don’t get me wrong…I love Christmas. Love Jesus. Love the celebration…the decorations…the expectation. I just wanted it all to fit into my perfect picture.

Last year, as I stomped around whining that everyone else was stealing my Christmas again, a very wise friend reminded me that it wasn’t my Christmas. She gently pointed out, “Christmas belongs to Jesus.”

There was some pondering over that last year as I looked at the madness surrounding me in the days leading up to Christmas. I noticed the frantic looks on the faces of those rushing around to make it all just right. And I noticed something else when I stopped long enough to look. Where was Jesus in all the rushing about to satisfy my desires for the perfect family picture…the searching for the perfect gifts…the perfect memories? Where was He when we rushed around from family dinner to family dinner filling our senses to the brim with food and presents galore?

Last Christmas, when I stopped long enough to listen, He reminded me that there was a way to take Jesus with us as we went from house to house. He need not be left out of the baking, the shopping, the eating, the visiting, the gift-giving. His love could fill every moment, every act of preparing for our marathon of Christmas dinners. He reminded me that it’s about loving the people we are given to love…no matter how imperfect our picture may be. It is a privilege to be a vessel of His love. A privilege to have people to love. A gift…to be treasured, not squandered or overlooked.

This Christmas, He has filled my heart with peace as I look at the full calendar before me. Peace and joy in place of stress and resentment. There are people to love. And even more than that, I am reminded of the ultimate gift this Christmas. And, in laying down my perfect Christmas picture, He has given me the answer to my search.

This year, I am in awe of the most perfect gift of all. If you’ve been reading lately, you’ve heard me speak of the miracle that Jesus came for us. Most of the time, the noise of the preparation and celebration is so loud and busy that I lose sight of the miracle of His gift to us. Somehow, this year, the miracle that He came is shining so brightly that all the rest of the earthly glitter of this season has dulled in comparison.

Immanuel…His very name means “God With Us”. God…with…us. He didn’t leave us lost and hopeless in our sin and sorrow. He came to redeem us, to restore us, to save us. We have hope because He came.

Whatever piece of your perfect Christmas picture is missing, I pray you are blessed this Christmas to know that there is hope in the One who loved you enough to scale the bounds of Heaven and Earth to come for you. And He would have come, even if you were the only one that needed saving.

These are hard times. So many people are hurting. So many Christmas pictures are missing someone who was loved and treasured. So many families full of strife and sorrow. So many people worried about how they will provide for their families in the uncertain economy. So much brokenness in this imperfect world…but one simple truth shines a light in the darkness. One promise that is perfect…One gift that cannot be taken away, no matter what happens…

The gift…that He came.

He came…to seek and save that which was lost.
He came…to set the captives free.
He came…that we may have life and have it more abundantly.
He came…to preach good tidings to the poor.
He came…to heal the brokenhearted.
He came…to make beauty from ashes.

I hope you don’t mind my quoting a previous post to close. It bears repeating:

More than two thousand years ago, the world ached for salvation, swelled with yearning for deliverance, redemption, restoration…for a Savior to rescue from sin and death. And He came…a baby King, born in a lowly stable on a quiet night to a peasant girl and her betrothed…a carpenter. He was in the still, small voice when He whispered past Elijah. And He was in the quiet stable birth when He came to rescue us and sent His angels to tell the lowly shepherds the good news.

His name is Jesus…and He came for me.

His name is Jesus…and He came for you.

And Because He came…there is hope for tomorrow and a promise of a joyful, forever reunion. He will wipe away all of the tears and wash away the loss and regret. He will cleanse and forgive and clothe us in robes of white. The empty arms will be filled. The hungry hearts will be fed. Brokenness will be restored. Mourning will be turned to dancing. And sin and death will be no more.

Because He came…He will carry us through this life.

And because He came…He will come again…in all His glory…to take us home.

May you be blessed and in awe of the miracle of the Perfect Christmas Gift this year.

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