I love Christmas! I love love love the glitter and sparkle and this time when I am reminded about the wonder of our savior.

I think about the luxury of living in a time and place where information is easy and the news about a baby who was sent to save the world didn’t get to me weeks later by people on camels who hadn’t bathed in days. I’m glad I don’t live in a time or place where my children’s lives would be threatened by a king who wanted to kill all the babies under the age of two so he could be certain the baby Jesus didn’t threaten his own position as king. I am humbled when I consider the perfection of the story, which helps me see my own imperfections, and for that I am glad. It feels like luck that I have the benefit of the bible, where I can see that Jesus’ birth fulfilled a prophecy. The people who lived in Jesus’ time had only the word of people who were just like them. They had reason to be suspect of this wild information they were given. That a savior had come in the form of a baby, and they asked, “A savior from what?”  I pray for those people who couldn’t wrap their heads around this miracle, and I believe God understands the disadvantages of not yet having the Gutenberg press (that transformed communication).

I love it that a star shone above Jesus and that sparkle and abundance is part of our holiday. I love it that the wise men brought gifts and that giving and generosity is encouraged by their example. And most of all, I love it that our king was not a king of Judea, Israel, or Palestine, but a king of our souls. A king who would save us from the tragedies of sin, regardless of the location that we live or the life we’ve lived, and that this king was born lowly and in a manger. That is worth overflowing expression.

I have to remind myself of these joys because I find myself becoming Grinch like as I juggle all the expectations by myself (Dear friends who help me, I trust you know what I mean!) Because I love the season and want to give and participate, I tackle projects and then grumble when my house (and office) is a mess. I am frustrated at the things I’m missing out on and am short tempered with peers and love them at the same time. I’m impatient with non givers, wondering how they missed the generosity gene, but then applaud the boundaries they set for themselves.

Side note: I discovered last night that Cracker Barrel doesn’t serve alcohol. I’d gotten a gift certificate from my bank perks so my friend and I decided to try it out. I’d hoped for a glass of red wine with my friend, rice with my trout, and peppermint tea at the end. The menu has probably 200 items on it, but doesn’t have three things for which I’d hoped. Grinchyness tempted me: an attitude check was in order!

This last few weeks has been extra difficult. A beloved coworker was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a precious friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and we had an ongoing threat of violence in our school district that left us feeling vulnerable and took us off track of productivity – that was the straw that broke my camel’s back. While we’re hoping to enjoy Christmas, interruptions are spoiling our fun.

Yet Jesus’ birth gives me sure footing when the ground beneath me is giving way. 

While the circumstances are breaking our hearts, we can remind ourselves, “Oh, but there’s Christmas.” And by that I mean, “Oh, but there’s Jesus.” Jesus, your name brings us peace. Jesus, Jesus, your name is love.

I got to ride my bike to work the other morning. It’s been hard to do during this busy time when I’m carrying things to work or running errands after. These rides are precious talking to God time. It’s 6:15ish and dark (and with five layers of clothing, other than my hands, I was prepared for the cold).  I love sharing the road with the few others that are up and out with me. The car lights make me happy and my senses are warmed with the smells of bacon and pastries as I pedal past restaurants, donut shops and bakeries. It’s a sacred time that can’t be measured. Aware of my fragile state, I asked God for strength throughout the day. I wasn’t feeling servant like and I needed ability from him to remind me of who I am in him.

I asked for patience and tolerance, and somewhere between Fred Meyer and arriving to school he reminded me that he doesn’t tolerate people. He loves them.

And that is what Christmas is all about. A gift from God who loves us so very much.

While the world calls us to be tolerant of each other, Jesus calls us to be so much more than that. He asks us to love one another. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

And then his baby grew up to be a man. He walked this earth as a human, lowly, tempted, rejected and betrayed. He came to serve and glorify his father, ultimately hanging on a cross for us. That is not tolerance, it is love.

When the things around you are spoiling your fun, when someone or some thing robs you of the joy of this season, may you step firmly on the ground that God created for you, and remember, “Oh, but there’s Jesus.”

Merry Christmas! There is Jesus!

PS: My Secret Santa at school brought a lift to my spirits, too.

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