Merry Christmas! ‘Tis the season for jubilant greetings, warm embraces and laughing until it hurts with family and friends.
For me, though, one of the big obstacles of Christmas is to make sure I truly have my heart and mind in the right place as it relates to my faith.
Remembering “the reason for the season” is easy enough with a cliché phrase, but putting it into practice is sometimes a personal challenge because of all the distractions: I’m excited to head back home; I want to give thoughtful gifts; I’m thinking of next year’s goals; holiday parties have awesome food. The list goes on and on and my attention bounces from place to place.
In reality, however, my primary concern should be focusing on the fact that Christ loves me so much that He came to Earth in human form to save me from sin and show me how to live my life.
(Man…even typing that just made my list of distractions seem silly…)
So this year, my wife and I both prayed that we would keep our hearts in the right place during the Advent season and be drawn closer to Him in this time of preparation. I didn’t know what would happen or how, but was willing to hear anything Jesus wanted to tell me.
I Think I’ve Got Something
Most of the time, I really try to see things from other people’s perspectives, and so it hit me that I should try to consider Jesus’ birth from another perspective: Mary’s. It was precipitated by Francesca Battistelli’s song “You’re Here”, reinforced while celebrating The Immaculate Conception and hit home while discussing Gabriel’s visit to Mary (Lk 1:26-38) in a bible study this week. In each instance, my mind kept grappling with the incomprehensible enormity of the fact that:
- Mary was open to whatever God had planned for her and
- She got to hold him [God] in her arms!
The first point is one that can be a regular struggle. I dream up ideas and create plans of where I want to be and what I want to do; that’s just my nature. So if God asked me to go down a different path (one that seemed really hard and out of my comfort zone) sheesh…I pray that I would have the grace to answer in the same manner as Mary. Her willingness to accept her calling is such an amazing example of humility through faith. Plus, her situation of being an unmarried, pregnant woman in Jewish biblical times put her in a far more serious predicament than any I will probably ever face. It can be a scary thought, but I have to trust that whatever situation I’m in, He’s leading me through.
The second point is one that just fills me with a sense of awe. What it must have been like for Mary to know that she was responsible for raising her own savior and the uncertainty of what that would look like. God turned her world upside down, but in doing so literally put himself directly at the center of it. To me, it’s such a powerful thought to envision that situation. What could I ever say or do that wouldn’t make me feel completely self-conscious?! I can only imagine being speechless, staring at the infant in my arms and having an overwhelming sense of love take hold of me!
The Final Count Down
So where does this leave me now? With seven days to go, this may well be my most merry Christmas yet, but I believe it’s because God lead me down a path to consider what a Mary Christmas was like first.
Have you been doing anything specific this Advent season to prepare for Jesus’ birth? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!