My husband and I watched Christmas Town last night – the first Hallmark Christmas movie I have convinced anyone to watch with me this year. I admit I haven’t always appreciated them. Some seasons they seemed much too simple, cheesy and formulaic. I mean, they do all follow the same basic recipe. Girl from big city with lousy relationship somehow finds herself in a quaint little town with snow and Yuletide decorations galore. She happens upon a rugged stranger and sparks fly. But there is always some obstacle to them falling in love.
The roadblock, which is eventually overcome, usually takes the form of a job in another city or the previously mentioned lousy relationship. In the end, true love and happiness win out and the Christmas spirit is prominently displayed. The scripts contain no bad language and only one or two chaste kisses to seal the new relationship deal. It’s all very neat and cozy and sweet. And I just felt like I needed it.
I LOVE Christmas. It’s somewhat of a family joke. I love the music and decorations and horrible Christmas sweaters. I want to do ALL of the events – concerts and light tours and parties. I record all the classic Christmas specials and beg my husband and kids to watch with me. And even though I live in Texas, I dream of a white Christmas and serene family gatherings. But life isn’t really like a Hallmark Christmas movie, is it?
This is the third year in a row that my family experienced something really difficult right at holiday time. It’s hard, and somehow seems unfair due to the bill of goods we’ve been sold by card makers and retailers and story books alike. There isn’t always enough money. Decorations don’t always look perfect. Jobs don’t last forever, and relationships aren’t always easy. And that may not be the Norman Rockwell-esque picture of a modern Christmas, but I think it’s a lot like the first Christmas.
Scandal surrounded the birth of our King. Tongues wagged at the teenage, unmarried and pregnant Mary. Having little money to speak of, she walked or rode a donkey for mile after dusty mile with her betrothed. With no decent rooms available, they bedded down in a barn. When her contractions started, she was without her mother or midwife or ANYONE who knew of the birthing process. Mary must have been so frightened as many women didn’t survive childbirth before modern medicine.
They must have been so thirsty. Did Mary and Joseph have to drink the same water the animals were drinking? What must the smells have been like in that barn. And after Jesus came, did she have clothes to replace the ones covered in blood and afterbirth? Were the cattle really “lowing” as the popular carol states? Or were they freaked out by the screaming and crying associated with childbirth. And amidst all the chaos, our Savior was born. Our fate forever changed. (Find the story here.)
Nichole Nordeman’s “What Child is This/ Fragile” might be my new favorite Christmas carol. Between the verses of this song written over 150 years ago, the singer weaves in reminders of our current state:
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary
On and on the rain will fall like tears from the star.
On and on the rain will say how fragile we are.
The heavenly mixed with the earthly. Weakness buoyed by strength. This, this is what Christmas is all about. His first coming was messy, just like our Christmases now. But He made Himself low and joined us in the mess out of love. And that’s how it will be until Jesus comes again. His light will penetrate our darkness. He will bring joy where there has been none. He will love us and rescue us time and again when we don’t deserve it. There’s nothing too messy for Him to step into. Jesus our Savior is with us, within us until He comes back here in bodily form to reign as a mighty King. Then all will be perfect forevermore for those who believe.
Do you know Jesus this Christmas? Not just the little baby in the manger, but the Savior who came to earth. He took the blame for all your sins and put them to death with Him on the cross. All you have to do is believe that He was born to die for you. Once you believe in His saving grace, He enters into your life – messes and all. He offers the ONLY forgiveness of sins and gives help and hope this Christmas. If you want to know more about His birth in a stable and death on a cross I would love to meet or correspond with you. Drop me a note here or keep it confidential by visiting the CONTACT tab on this page. I pray if you haven’t already, that you receive the best gift available today. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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