Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house women are scurrying preparing for the perfect Christmas Day. Visions of thankful children playing happily with their toys, family members enjoying deep conversations, a perfect dinner spread dance in their heads. Or perhaps your vision is of children screaming and fussing with one another, family members biting comments on your weight and housekeeping skills, and the new recipe a complete flop.
Whatever you are envisioning, let me remind you of this: The first Christmas was not perfect.
Mary, nine months pregnant, travels four days on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Her travel probably consisted of some walking, some donkey riding. The trip was difficult under normal circumstances (threats of bandits, lions and bears). Imagine what is was like traveling while nine months pregnant.
They probably travelled with Joseph’s family. Mary spent four days in a desert of with people who were not particularly fond of her, after all, that baby was not Joseph’s.
When they finally make it to Bethlehem, this culture that was known for its hospitality could not find a room for this very pregnant girl. She is forced to sleep and consequently give birth to the Messiah in a barn with animals.
The first Christmas was preceded by hardship, scorn, rejection. It was not a perfect Christmas. Mary and Joseph were tired, frustrated, disappointed. They were relegated to a barn like animals and this is when Jesus decides to make His entry into the world. He was born in chaos.
But when Mary beheld baby Jesus’ face, suddenly the difficult four day journey was insignificant. Her in-laws’ biting comments fell to the ground. Her barn delivery room suddenly seemed like a palace. When Mary looked at baby Jesus, joy peace, hope, goodwill permeated the air. The Messiah was here! A King was born! Her chaos became peace. And this stressful, difficult Christmas became perfect, not because of the circumstances but because Jesus was there!
Tomorrow as you celebrate Christmas, don’t expect your family, your gifts, your beautiful dinners to be perfect. Don’t expect external things to make you happy. But look to Jesus who is always perfect, to find your joy, your peace, your hope. Place your eyes firmly on him and all else will fade away.
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14 NKJV