It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is fast approaching. In some ways it seems like this year has dragged out forever, and in other ways, it seems like this year has sped by.
The year 2020 has given us many things to fear; sickness, lockdown, job loss, economic hard times, travel, gatherings, the list of things we are afraid of this year could go on and on.
Unfortunately, the number one fear people have during Christmas is racking up debt. In an effort to mitigate some of the pain and anxiety from this pandemic year, many people will be overspending on Christmas even more than usual to compensate for such a crazy weird year.
Did you know that the average adult spends over $900 on Christmas gifts? And 25% of all consumers said it took them until October the following year to pay off credit cards from their Christmas holiday spending.
Debt is certainly not what Christmas is all about, nor is it what the Lord has in mind for us as we celebrate the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Many of us are spending time decorating the house, preparing food for (small) Christmas gatherings, buying gifts for family and friends and just generally being busy, distracted and tense!
More than most years, this year is a time to maintain some level of sanity. The most important thing you and I can do is to remember why we’re celebrating Christmas. It’s not about Santa, parties (especially this year), gifts, decorations or the food. The only reason we celebrate Christmas is to acknowledge the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.
So even if it’s going to take you until the stores close on Christmas Eve to finish everything, now is the time to take a moment, put down all of your “to do” lists and ask the Lord to show you if you’re spiritually ready for Christmas.
In the busyness of the season, it takes an intentional effort to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. It takes an intentional effort to have a spirit that’s ready to worship the Christ of Christmas. It takes an intentional effort to slow down, and focus on spiritually preparing for Christmas.
Spend some unhurried time reading through the advent story in Luke Chapter 1. It is a beautiful story of faith and miracles and two women who were open to the gifts God gave them.
In the first chapter of Luke, there are two verses related to the Hail Mary Prayer.
In Luke 1:26-28 we hear the following: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.'” This is the first line we say when praying “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”
The next part of the story is when Mary visits Elizabeth and we hear the second part of the Hail Mary Prayer in Elizabeth’s greeting from Luke 1:41-42: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.'” And that is the second part of the Hail Mary prayer, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
So through these two faithful women we can see that God works miracles in situations which humans would think impossible. Elizabeth was an older woman considered to be barren and according to the Bible, both she and her husband were “advanced in years.” Which is not a time when couples typically get pregnant.
In Mary’s case, she became pregnant even though she was a virgin. At the angel’s greeting, Mary responded in both obedience and faith. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
The miracle of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift we’ll ever receive and, like Mary and Elizabeth, it is good for us to be prepared spiritually to receive this most important gift.
So instead of worrying about all the things you have to do this week, think about the blessings and the miracles behind what we are celebrating.
Don’t go into debt to fund Christmas. Despite what advertisers are telling us, that’s not what Christmas is really all about. No amount of money, no fantastic gifts or delicious food can surpass the miracle of God made man.
Instead of getting caught up in what our culture is promoting, calm down, spend time in the Bible and look for things to celebrate. Most times, it’s the small simple things which mean the most. The cooing of a baby, the hugs from your children, that special bond with your spouse. Those are our everyday miracles and gifts from God.
So as we near Christmas day, we pray that you are spiritually ready to be like Mary and Elizabeth—open to recognizing and accepting the gifts God plans to give you this Christmas.