lightstock_80104_small_user_5536412“Tis the season to be busy – Fa la la la la la la la la.” Can you relate? We hurry to get last minute things put together, bought, wrapped, baked, sent, etc. We long to enjoy this season with family and friends and yet it never fails to bring stress instead of peace. A friend asked me the other day, “Why can’t we just celebrate this season for what it is and let go of all this other stuff?” Like most of us, she was suffering from over-busy-ness. But how exactly do we do that? I know I’m one to get stuck on traditions. I like to do things “like we always have” and I have a hard time letting go of certain things. But when my mind is set on what all I have to do and how much time there is to do it in, I find that the season passes by and I have missed the time for reflection, thankfulness, and joy.

I was reminded the other day how normal and routine the night was when Jesus was born. There were no fancy decorations up. No special food prepared. No gifts being bought. Only Mary and Joseph knew the significance of that night – until angels announced it to a group of shepherds. At that time, most Jews were looking for their Messiah – longing for him, praying for him. Yet many of them completely missed him in the 33 years he lived among them. And I wonder today how many of us miss him because we are too busy with the things of life – no matter how good.

Jesus came that first Christmas as a gift from God – a gift long promised, long-expected and so undeserved. But that gift didn’t end 2,000 years ago. That gift is still offered today – all year long. He came to teach us the way to his father and to bring healing and hope into our lives. He came to do the impossible – that which we desperately need, but cannot do on our own. His love for us is unfathomable! We cannot measure his love for us by only the good things that happen to us. Life is made up of both good and bad. While the Bible does teach us that all good things are gifts of God, there are often times we cannot tell the difference between what is good and what is not. Sometimes it’s only after time passes that we can see all of the ways he has really blessed us. But even in the dark times we can trust in his love towards us because of what he came to do. He traveled from the perfect bliss of heaven to be born in a dark, cold, stinky, scratchy hay filled manger. He grew up as the son of a poor carpenter. He was treated with contempt by those who claimed to be looking for him. He allowed himself to be beaten, spit on, laughed at and nailed to a cross so that any who sought him could have the hope of heaven. If that is not proof enough of his love, I don’t know what would be! But I also know he has done even more than that. In my life, he has spoken truth when I believed lies. He has spoken healing into my hurts. He shared beauty when all I saw was filth. He has worked miracle upon miracle. And this Christmas he is here among us – sharing his truth in the voice of a child or the help of a stranger. He speaks clearly in the words of Luke ch. 2. He waits patiently for us to end our relentless pursuit of the “perfect Christmas” and invite him to be a part of what we are doing. Even better, how about we abandon our ideas of what is needed and just ask him? He is the reason for the season and what he guides us to or asks us to do, he will use in a mighty way. No doubt the blessings will far outweigh any joy we would receive in our own doings. He has always been and will always be the perfect gift. Nothing we buy or seek after can even come close.

Thank you Father for the gift of your son that we remember especially at this time of year. We cannot imagine where we would be without your love for us. May we please you with our words and actions – especially at this time of year. May we remember that you are the God of the impossible. You can do what no one else can! May we begin to grasp the depth of your love for each one of us and may that discovery transform how we live in 2015. Amen

~Tara Hensel