Unlike other months, time speeds up during December, especially as Christmas Day draws nearer. This morning, my seven-year-old counted the days on our calendar and announced with great joy that there are only 18 days until Christmas.
What began as a measured, focused celebration and keeping my eyes on Bethlehem threatens to morph into the stress and storm of shopping and wrapping and better planning in order to create a memorable Christmas. A perfect Christmas worthy of celebrating.
As if Christmas needs me to make it worthy when, in truth, it works the other way around. If I let it.
If I let it, Christmas makes me worthy. A baby’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem brings my forgiveness and my redemption and much-needed grace and deeply longed-for hope.
If I let it, Christmas brings me joy. My heart echoes with the whispers of God’s angel: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy. It is a joy for all because Jesus was born to ransom every broken, hurting, imperfect heart, including mine.
If I let it, Christmas provides peace. A peace in the midst of hardships and challenges and grief and hurt; in other words, a peace that doesn’t make sense outside of Jesus.
And the thing is, Christmas will come no matter what I do or don’t do or whether I feel prepared or not.
Because Christmas doesn’t need me; I need Christmas. I need to be in that field with the shepherds hearing the proclamation of angels. I need to be in that stable with a young girl about to birth the Son of God. I need to see the star that God placed in the heavens to tell the world of His amazing love.
I need Christmas.
I doubt I’ll be ready for Christmas in the way that the world gets ready for Christmas. My house will still have clutter and fewer decorations than I thought. Our budget still will be too tight to buy all the things I think we should buy. Our lives will still be too messy to be considered ready for Christmas.
But, honestly, I don’t think we’re ever ready for Christmas; not the Christmas Jesus brings.
How can one prepare for a pouring out of grace and love and peace and joy that matches nothing with which we are familiar in this hurting and broken world? How can one prepare for angel choirs and tired shepherds and cold, dark stables? How can one prepare for the Creator of the world bowing so low as to rest in a manger?
All I can do is turn my eyes and my imperfect human heart to His heavenly throne and whisper my deepest thanks steeped in my awe, my need, my hopes and my fears.
The days on the calendar will continue to count down to December 25th and I will continue to try and prepare my heart more than my home for Christmas to make me worthy of its arrival and celebration.