Christmas Preparations

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the preparation that goes into Christmas– buying and wrapping presents, getting special outfits picked out, sending Christmas cards.

It’s not lost on me as a parent that a lot of the things that we do this time of year are exactly what my kids– and lots of others like them– love about this season and look forward to most. Even during a year when many of the events that would fill our calendar are removed, there are plenty of other things we’ll still do to try and make Christmas special for our families.

Yet as many of you can relate to, even though things like baking and decorating and others add to the usual juggle of home, work, and school, we do these things because we love our kids and the joy our kids experience through them. To me, that’s part of what Christmas is all about.

Because just like we sometimes do things as parents or grandparents for the sake of our kids– because we love them and because it lights up our lives to see their faces overflowing with joy– just think how much more God feels that way about us.
Any joy we feel by doing something for someone we care about is just a just a glimpse of how much joy God feels showering us with love and seeing us smile at something God has given us or created. And when it comes down to it, that’s the reason God sent Jesus in the first place: to show us we are loved and so that we would always know Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

It wasn’t necessarily easy for God to do this, or simple. God knew what Jesus’ life was going to be like and the many hardships that he would face, yet God decided it was worth it to send Jesus to become one of us anyway. And so Jesus came to show us the fullness of God’s love and forgiveness. It’s pretty remarkable when you think of it.

Yet as much as we might like to decorate or bake or do special things for our kids, maybe this Christmas more than ever, it’s important to remember that Jesus coming to us isn’t based on how pretty our decorations are or having a Pinterest-perfect tree.
Jesus coming to us isn’t based on how many different kinds of cookies we bake and getting them all just right. Jesus coming to us isn’t even based on getting everything ready on time. Rather, Jesus coming to us is all about God’s love. Jesus didn’t come to judge a baking contest or see how many things we can get crossed off our list. Jesus came to show us God is with us, not to see how “put together” we are.

So if you are reading this just after your kids threw a tantrum, or have felt recently that you really don’t have anything left to give, hear this: the promise is that Jesus comes for you– not perfect people, not those who have it all figured out, not the wealthy, the rich, the powerful, or those whom we might consider important, but for people whose lives are messy, who don’t always feel filled with hope, who are beloved yet pretty ordinary.
The promise of Christmas is that God loves you and is with you always, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more. May you rest in that promise, and let it wash over you this Advent.