You’ve hung the holiday lights and your yard resembles a Currier & Ives painting. The entrance to your home is filled with wonderful scents of the Christmas season. Cookies, pies and special cakes are laid out upon a white table cloth, with candles and lots of beautiful accessories. The inviting aromas of pine, cinnamon, chocolate and peppermint permeate the air. The roaring fireplace invites you into a cozy, comfy room which beckons you to a different world. The warmth of hot chocolate kisses your lips or a mug of egg nog, spiced with a bit of brandy adds to the celebration.
Sounds perfect, right?
Maybe not quite as perfect as we planned. We go through the motions of preparing for this wonderful holiday. We spend hours looking through magazines for ideas on the most beautiful presentation, the most delicious foods, the perfect gifts. We scroll through Pinterest, run out to get the materials needed for a special craft, only to spend more than you intended and the craft is a disaster.
The children are filled with extra sugar, mega-energy, super-sized wants and needs and you just can’t manage to get things done. They are calling for attention. Your house needs a makeover. Relatives descend on you and what should be a giant family reunion, may turn into a disaster. You try to squeeze all this extra stuff into the little time you have between work and extra curricular activities. Your temper rises, your fuse is short and most likely someone develops a cold or the flu.
Those dreams of the perfect holiday have all but vanished.
You try to manage your shopping so you keep within a certain budget, but know you won’t have nearly enough. You stress out for not sending Christmas cards. You remember loved ones who have left this world. There’s not enough time, nor money, nor strength to get it all done. Your emotions are on a giant roller coaster.
A young woman was about to give birth, that first Christmas Eve. Mary and Joseph had made the treacherous journey to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. There was no available room in the little town. They didn’t know what to do. None of this adventure made any sense. It was if they had been moving blindly, after the angelic messenger told them what was to occur.
The baby was not going to wait for the perfect room. He was going to be born NOW! So they went to the place where animals slept – a cold, dark and dank space that reeked of hay, manure and smelly animals. Jesus was born with no fanfare. He was the King of Kings and yet his tiny body was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feeding trough. It was not the place for a king. It was not expected or what they hoped for, but it was part of God’s master plan for us.
The greatest gift ever, was born that night. In that manger, lay the Son of God and Mary – the Messiah born to save the world from sin. There were no special trimmings – no extravagant food – no trumpets blaring – only the sound of a cow mooing occasionally or a lamb bleating. Except for the angelic choir singing the most glorious songs, there was nothing but peace.
We can decorate our homes and make them look perfect, but it’s what’s inside that really matters. I’m not talking about all the flashy ornaments and gorgeous trimmings. I’m referring to what’s inside our hearts.
Jesus makes our hearts perfect – way beyond anything the world imagines – complete with the promise of eternal life in a perfect place. What an amazing gift, with no strings attached.