Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Facing our Struggles: Christmas stress?


When we think of Christmas time we fantasize of calm winter skies with hot cocoa, decor, presents, and family.  We think of a nativity scene with peaceful looks on the figures faces that tell the Christmas story.  Most of us have very vivid memories of Christmas time growing up.  Christmas experiences leave a strong impression on us don`t they?  From them we create expectations of our Christmases to come, both good and bad.  Christmas time is no doubt one of the most stressful times of the year as we scramble to meet those expectations or not disappoint them.

Reading the gospel account of Christ`s birth in the book of Luke is the typical Christian tradition.  No doubt many families will crack open the Bible and once again remember the amazing account of little baby Jesus` birth.  The problem is that this Gospel account so easily becomes cliche.  It becomes limited to a sort of story book tale, far separated from our reality, from our daily experiences.

Let`s reread this account and give it the drama, wonder, and prestige it deserves.

First of all the two aren`t even married yet.  It says in verse 5 of Luke 2, "pledged to be married".  So this engaged couple expecting a child are going on a road trip.  This road trip isn`t all that exciting because it is merely to register for the census degreed by the occupying foreign power of Rome.  It is more of a duty than a fun outing.

Now these two have both been visited by angels and told amazing things and they are no doubt wondering what is going to happen as they arrive in Bethlehem.  I mean they might be thinking, " if God sent an angel to tell us the news, I`m sure He can provide us a nice place to stay."  *wrong* Not in His will.

They could not find any place to stay...they are no doubt stressed out and finally have to settle for a stinky, smelly animal stable that probably was a cave.  After giving birth, a bunch of shepherds (not religious people by any means) suddenly stop by to see the baby...remember they aren`t married yet. (lol) Have fun explaining that one Joseph, but they might believe it, since the were visited by angels too.  What a story!!

I could continue on and so forth, but my point is that the story of Christmas itself is filled with unpredictable situations, stressful scenarios, and amazing moments.  It is far from the "ideal."  God chose rag-tag beginnings for the Messiah, and it is humbling to think about His choice to be born as a man in such a way.  It is even more comforting knowing that His birth was just as stressful, exciting, and unpredictable to those involved as our lives are sometimes.

So if you are experiencing stress this Christmas like many are, be comforted in the fact that the very first Christmas was filled with stress too.  Just remember to hold on to and cherish the wonder and amazement of God`s salvation for you and all people this Christmas.
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