It is just four weeks until Christmas, people. Four. Weeks. I have absolutely no idea how that happened, y’all - but it did. We are here and Christmas season is upon us, along with the good, the bad and the ugly that comes right along with it. The hustle and the bustle around the season stresses me out like no other time of the year, and try as I might, I struggle BIG TIME to slow down and focus on the reason for the season. I know I’m not the only one who gets caught up in Christmas lists, travel plans, decorations, holiday parties and Etsy sales! But this year, I want to take time at the beginning of each week to settle my heart on just one thing. One thought surrounding the reason of the season. My hope is that when the stress begins to build, I can come back to that one thought and settle my mind back into the WHY once again. A part of the Christmas story I love most actually has nothing to do with the ACTUAL Christmas story at all, but rather everything that comes prior to that little town of Bethlehem. Most of us would have to admit that we are New Testament Christians, right? We have heard all of the stories of the Old Testament growing up in Sunday School and what not, but in actuality what we study - what we CLAIM - is saturated in New Testament verses. The New Testament is wonderful, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s full of grace, compassion, love and Truth. But that is only half the story. Jesus MAY be the POINT of it all, but a whole heck of a lot of life happened BEFORE he came onto the scene. And in order for us to fully realize the magnitude of the birth of Jesus, we have to acknowledge the Old Testament world. So what is my favorite part of the Christmas story? The years of waiting before. See, what had happened was God loved the Israelites - they were His chosen people, but they kept turning their back on Him in this endless cycle of rules, disobedience, debauchery, repentance, sacrifice, obedience, rules, disobedience, etc. for years and years and years. Finally, God said enough. And they waited. They didn’t hear from God - not a prophet, not a priest, not a miracle - for FOUR HUNDRED years. Think about it - generations were born and lost without ever having experienced God for themselves. It was lonely. It was dark. It was desperate.
Have you ever felt desperate for Jesus? They had been promised a savior, and the Jewish people held onto that for all of those four hundred years (along with all of the rules and the religion). They longed for a majestic king to arrive with pomp and circumstance, they looked for him, they waited for him. But he was born in a small, very un-majestic manger. Ironically, after all of that silence, Jesus was brought into this world on what we can only imagine to be a still and very quiet night. Can you imagine the hush that fell as the Savior was born? The awe that was felt even among the animals in that stable. The tears that Mary and Joseph felt as they held the One their entire community had been waiting for for FOUR hundred years? Let’s try to put ourselves in that moment right now. In the stillness of a stable, and all that comes with it. The groans of childbirth falling into awe and wonder. The very unholy smells surrounding Mary and Joseph as they held not only their child, but their Savior, after an entire life of yearning. This child wasn't only an answer to their prayers, but an answer for all of their friends and family. And they held it. The magnitude of that very moment must have hung so heavy. This week, as we get lost in the hustle and bustle of the very busy season, let this heaviness hang in your heart. Remember the silence that the Israelites felt as they sat in waiting for so many years. Let the graciousness of the gift of Jesus wash over you in the stillness of the mornings as we remember that there is waiting no more. We have him today.