Christmas Means God Is With Us

Used with permission:

Used with permission:

Honestly, I love Christmas. I love it all–the fanfare, the pageantry, and the traditions our family has developed over the years.

But I also know that this season can be draining and distracting, and there’s a huge possibility that I’ll miss it. So, as we find ourselves in this joyous time of the year, I’m thinking about what it means to slow down and remember what this season is really about.

Every year, the Christmas season seems to aggressively bombard us with its presence. Once Halloween has passed, it’s go time. It’s the commercials, the Christmas aisles at stores, and an annoyingly early beginning to Christmas carols on the radio (Ahem. Thank you, 103.5).

All of this jump starts the mental to-do lists that seem unending from shopping lists, to holiday parties, to coordinating the family get-togethers.

And then you add in special church services and events and it really feels overwhelming. I’ve realized my own tendency to get caught up in the hoopla of it all that I forget to be present and receptive to what this season actually means.

Some of us, perhaps, even feel worn out before Christmas starts.

Unfortunately, this is far too often how the holidays play out. For a number of us, Christmas simply means busyness. It’s added work and stress and less time spent with those who matter most. But what if we changed the narrative this year?

Starting now, what if we committed with incredible intentionality to not let this season pass by without a few promises to ourselves?

The message of Christmas is that we have life and love and joy because we have a God who is “with us” (Isaiah 7:14). If this is the main focus of the season, then shouldn’t we try to be with God too?

What might it look like to be “with God” this Christmas season? I have a few ideas.

We are with God when we take time to prioritize our significant relationships.

Christmas is a season to be with our loved ones. This means we eliminate the distractions that take away from these important moments.

Maybe that means we turn the phone off every now again. Maybe we decline a few of those “extra” holiday gatherings so we can make sure we don’t neglect those closest to us. Whatever it looks like for our context, we make time by prioritizing.

We are with God when we are available to people in need.

Christmas doesn’t always mean joy and laughter and happiness for everyone. The holidays can be–and often times are–difficult times for many people. They can be painful reminders of loved ones lost, of broken families, of things not working out.

Can we be sensitive to these needs?

Can we meet some of them through our loving inclusion, heartfelt words, and support?

Perhaps it looks like calling that person who is lonely this time a year, or making a sacrifice for someone in need so they might experience a little Christmas joy. Or better yet, we can open up our Christmas table so someone in need has a place to be.

We are with God when we are fully present.

Our God is a God of the past and future, yes, but also one of the present. He is with us in the moment. So why not own that?

It seems like every Hallmark movie reminds us that “Christmas comes but once a year.” We all know this.

But what we often fail to notice is that we are not promised a certain number of holidays or years in this life. We don’t know what the future holds.

It’s a little sad and macabre to think like this, but this might be the last Christmas we get to share with certain family or friends. If it is the last, how would we want to remember it?

I imagine we’d dive in without reservations. We’d eat good food and share laughter and enjoy the special feeling of this time of the year. We’d eliminate distractions, shun busyness, and truly make the most of the holiday season.

In other words, we’d make it the best Christmas yet. So what if we did just that?

Let’s start, right now, with the mindset of savoring this Holiday season.

Let’s not allow activity or busyness or service to get in the way.

And let us remember that if God is with us, then we should be with Him too.

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