A Perfect Christmas

Christmas is sitting up through the night with a grieving family and being able to tell them they can make it because God is with us.

We want the magical, the festive, or perhaps the contemplative Christmas. We want the hot chocolate and fireplaces. We want children’s eyes sparkling with wonder. We want hearts exploding with jubilant carols. We want the idyllic Christmas nativity program with almost perfect cherubs and slightly mischievous shepherds, a sweet Mary and kind Joseph, and a cute little baby doll wrapped up tight. We want Christmas to be perfect.

We light a few candles. We put fresh hay down and make sure there’s no manure in this rustic stable. It’s got to be perfect. It’s got to feel like Christmas.

But can there even be Christmas for the young lady who has just lost her mom? Can there be Christmas when emotions are raw and pain is deep? Can there be Christmas when it all feels hopeless?

Just maybe the grieving and hurting will not be so distracted by the glitz and glimmer of Christmas. Maybe now their eyes can focus on the God of Christmas.

Perhaps the best Christmas is when we see Bethlehem’s Baby for who He is–Jesus, the One who would take away the sins of the world. Perhaps the best Christmas is when we see the Christ-Child as He is–Emmanuel, God with us, walking with us in human experience. Surely the perfect Christmas is more than a sanitized storybook Christmas with colorful scenes recapturing childish imagination. It’s more than words and images, fancy or even history. Christmas is God stepping into the story of our lives… as Savior, to forgive our sins… as Emmanuel, to walk along the pathway of human experience with us.

So perhaps if you want to feel the spirit of Christmas, instead of scheduling another party, go visit a grieving friend. I believe you will sense the presence of the Christ-child because “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.”

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Sober Thoughts

sober thoughts

An intoxicated friend stopped by tonight wanting a ride down to his mom or brother’s home. I would have been willing to give the ride but didn’t figure the family would appreciate me dropping him off in that condition. He’d just gotten out of jail for making trouble at his mom’s home a couple of weeks ago. I called the mom to double-check. I was right. They didn’t want him coming down.

He didn’t take the news very well nor did he appreciate the tactful explanation I tendered. Further, I apparently tragically undermined his perception of what a man of God should be, but it was my gentle probings regarding the possibility of a better life that sent him over the edge. He yelled at me for a while. Then walked down the street screaming and threatening.  Continue reading