Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Christmas Forget List

If we aren’t careful, Christmas can become all about remembering. Excessively so. List makers have already started prioritizing the ‘to dos.’

Here’s just a partial list of lists.
  • Remember everyone on the gift list
  • Remember all the correct times and dates of the Christmas parties
  • Remember uncle Joe's birthday that is the week before Christmas
  • Remember to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Miracle on 34th Street. (And remember not to fall asleep or it doesn’t count).
  • Remember to bring a dish to share at the Church dinner
  • Remember to put cookies out for Santa and hang the stocking.

The pressure at Christmastime to remember is real.  So at this Advent season, I’m going to suggest we forget something.

Forget trying to make it perfect. Aim for meaningful.
Christmas started out so simple.  Now when you hear simple, don’t think simple in the sense of tastefully perfect. No Jesus’ birth was simply…chaotic! We can’t forget this.
Now I not advocating for chaos. However, what I’m about to share with you may be the best news you’re going to hear this Christmas. Fact: the birth of Jesus was total chaos.

Our Chaos times Three
Kristy and I have had three children (well, Kristy had them, I just chauffeured and cheered). And in each case when it was time for delivery, it ushered in an intense period of chaos.

First child when the time of delivery was near we were at JC Penney’s on a Friday night browsing through menswear. “Terry it’s time to go,” Kristy said.  Naively I responded, “But I want to try this shirt on.” “No,” she said “it’s time to go!” Chaos. Running, Wheel Chairs. Hazard lights. Speeding. Squealing tires.

Second child. Middle of January. There’s a snow storm outside and the whole family has the flu,. I’m laying comatose on the coach. Kristy comes down stairs with the verdict, “Terry it’s time to go.” “But I’m sick and it’s snowing,” I whimpered. “You want to deliver this baby?, she retorted.  Out the door. 4x4. Balled up Klenex. Sliding. Mucinex. Freezing. Chaos.

Third child. Its 11 O’clock at night. Kristy and I are both just falling asleep. “It’s time to go.” When? “Right now!” Call the emergency baby sitter. Grab the bag. Out the door. Hazard lights. Speeding. Chaos.

Jesus’ birth was chaotic too. Let’s briefly recount the story. A pregnant Mary forced to take an involuntary journey. Unfamiliar surroundings. In an inn. Exposed to the elements with limited shelter. In a hectic overstuffed town. Exhausted from travel.  Mary says, “It’s time!” Joseph asks, “Right now?”  In a feeding trough. With the animals. God is born. A miracle set in chaos.

So my friend don’t fret when your Christmas doesn’t feel perfect. In those moments of Christmas chaos, remember you’re closer to how it was the night of Jesus’ birth.

Forget perfection and just remember Jesus. The whole thing is about him. If we forget Jesus we’ve forgotten everything. Even if we remember everything else! Christmas is not about how well the ham or turkey turns out. It’s not about getting this gift or giving that gizmo. It’s not even about having every chair at the table filled. Christmas is about God loving us perfectly by sending us His Son.

The coming of Jesus was the ultimate expression of God’s love for us because it’s one thing to be told something it’s quite a bit better to see it in action. In Scripture, the Old Testament prophets and writers told us that God loved us. That He had a special affection for you and me. And the righteous believed it without ever having seen God. But even they wondered. They must have wondered and doubted. Does God really loved us? Christmas (and Good Friday) is God’s answer; an answer that we could see.

The infant in the manger grew into the man who lived a perfect life and laid it down freely for you and me. All the while teaching us also how to love one another.

Praying a Merry Christmas for each of You!