December 6, 2017

I had never considered the night Jesus was born to be anything other than perfection until I read the book, Not a Silent Night by Adam Hamilton. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Doesn’t it sound so peaceful and perfect?

This excerpt from the book says it all:

The words from “Silent Night” have shaped the way we imagine that first Christmas. It was idyllic. It was lovely. It was wonderful. It was joyous. It was perfect. Other Christmas carols capture much the same idea. “Away in a Manger” we sing, “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” The challenge for us is that our own Christmases seldom measure up to this ideal. They’re not perfect. They’re messy. They’re challenging. They’re difficult. In our world there’s adversity. There’s darkness. There’s pain and suffering. So on one hand we have the perfect Christmas with Mary and Joseph and the baby. And then there’s our Christmas and it’s far from perfect. Our Christmas isn’t much like the first Christmas. Or is it?

Hamilton goes on to talk about conditions Mary and Joseph faced before the arrival of their son.  It would have likely taken them ten days to travel from Bethlehem to Nazareth over terrain that included mountains and valleys. As a first-time mom, Mary must have been so anxious and scared about what was ahead. Chosen by God and given the most important task any mother would ever receive, Mary still gave birth away from the comfort of her home, in a barn! God doesn’t promise us that everything will be easy, nor does he expect our Christmas celebration to be perfect! Christmas can be a special time to draw closer to God and ask Him to take away perfectionistic ways and fix our eyes on what matters most.

Prayer: Thank you for blessing me with so many opportunities for celebrating this Advent Season. If you would have me spend my time any other way than I have planned, please show me and give me the resources to do what you would call me to do. Help me to remember the trials that Mary and Joseph faced as they gave birth to Jesus so that I can remember God is always with me. Help me to celebrate the gift of Jesus during this Christmas season by creating memories with my family and serving others in a way that is pleasing to you. Take away my perfectionistic tendencies and give me peace and gratitude for the present moment. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Erica Bollinger, Marketing and Social Media