And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11 NIV
The angels announced the birth of the Savior of the world to lowly shepherds in the fields. God did not send heralds to inform kings or the erudite. Likewise, Jesus served the poor and outcasts during His time on earth.
While caught up in the festivities and hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. For many years, I exhausted myself decorating the inside and outside of the house, buying and wrapping presents, baking goodies, and cleaning the house for the big day. The closer the calendar advanced to December, 25, the higher my stress level rose.
Now that we’re retired, and our house is obscured from our neighbors, we minimized our decorating. Our outdoor display consists of Jay staking the five-foot wooden Santa that I painted over thirty years ago. Inside I display a nativity set, poinsettias, and a few favorite decorations. Our Christmas tree is a modestly decorated dwarf conifer—Jay will plant it outdoors after Christmas (probably the day after Christmas as Jay is done with Christmas decorations after the opening of the final present). The tree stands topperless, since I’ve been unable to find a tree topper supportable by our little tree. Although pleased with my downsized decorating, I still enjoy seeing the displays of those who go all out.
Christmas can represent a depressing time for those who have lost loved ones, or experience a challenging situation. If you find yourself walking through a dark valley, I urge you to reach out to someone you trust. While you can always share your problems with Jesus, sometimes you just need to speak with a human, have a shoulder to lean on. God did not create us to carry our burdens alone. You are beautiful and worthy, and I pray you find the light in the darkness.
The book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Cecil Murphy and Don Piper is based on a true story about a minister who visited heaven for ninety minutes after pronounced dead at the scene of a serious car accident. Upon returning to earth in critical condition, he regretted surviving on multiple occasions because of the excruciating pain caused by his treatments and rehabilitation. He finally understood his suffering empowered him to provide strength and encouragement to others who endured unbearable pain. The book was also adapted as a movie. This book or movie might encourage others attempting to navigate a difficult journey.
May we all remember Christmas is the celebration of God becoming a man to live among us and to offer His life as the ultimate sacrifice that we may experience abundant life. And may we not get so caught up in our Christmas tasks that we forget to share the love of Christ.
Wishing you love, peace, and good health this Christmas Season and always!