Scrooge was haunted by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future and it led to his redemption. I am haunted by the illusion of the Perfect Christmas. May it lead to mine.
How many cookies must I bake for my home to feel as sweet as a Bavarian Bakery?
How many rooms must I decorate with sprigs of evergreen and boughs of holly before a chorus of Fa La La La La’s lighten every heart?
How do I think of, select, and wrap the perfect gift that conveys, “I see you. You matter. I’ve been paying attention”?
How many twinkle lights will fill my home with the Light I am after?
And how do I ward off the feeling that I am failing miserably to do any of this?
I don’t know. You would think that after all these years I would have given up but I haven’t. My longing to convey love is not diminished though the number of cookies I bake is. The number of rooms I decorate has lessened dramatically but my desire to recapture something of the holiness of Christmas this side of Paradise and make room for the tangible Presence of God has only increased.
How about you?
Here’s an idea. Let’s take the pressure off. Pressure kills. It kills relationships. It kills joy. It kills our ability to enjoy the partial that we are given to relish. It’ll kill our Christmas celebrations. Pressure even numbs our awareness of the glory of Emmanuel – Christ with us. Pressure takes us out. And we want to be present – to offer the gift of our presence to those around us is actually the greatest gift we can give them. The loved ones in our lives don’t want a marvelous gift from a harried and pressured giver. They want us. They want our love given with a free hand that is an alluring fragrance of our Jesus.
Holidays – Holy Days - are not given to us to rise to the mandate of perfection but to rest and remember – to enjoy the gifts our holy God has given to us by his free hand and to receive his gifts with humbled awe and gratefulness. We can’t wrap enough presents to respond in this way, we can only ask for the grace to wrap our hearts around this truth. God wants our hearts open and ready. He invites us to live from a place of trust and rest, not a place of pressure and demand.
We can demand so much of ourselves, can’t we?
So let’s just get it out in the open. No one’s Christmas is going to be perfect. But perfection IS COMING. On that day our longings and desires will be met with a filling that is currently incomprehensible.
Our Christmas on this side will not be perfect but it can be holy. It can be glorious. It can be good. I’m being invited to lay down the illusion that I can pull this thing off. Instead of that pressure, I’m being invited to rest in the love of God and remember that he alone is perfect and he loves perfectly. This babe in a manger, this Lamb of God, this Lion of Judah, this God of angel armies, this Savior of the World has come. He is coming today.
And when he comes in all his glory, every dream will come true for the richest among us and the poorest. For the most healthy and the most infirm. For the most seemingly blessed and the most horrifically oppressed. Jesus is coming again. Justice is coming. Love has already won and on that final and first day of Ultimate Triumph no illusion will shadow our hearts. And so we wait eagerly as we hope earnestly.
We welcome you, Jesus. Into the depths of who we are. Into our celebrations. Into our Christmas day and into all our days. Into our hearts, our homes and our world. Oh come, oh come Emmanuel.
(This was originally posted in 2015 but is still true for today!)