This was before... before - as a nation - we all began to feel like that! This was before... it was in the midst of tight financial times, battling illness, just being worn out, feeling pressure and no peace, feeling stress and no relief... and then last week unfolded, and what little Christmas 'feelings' we had stirred up seemed to come crashing down as we fell to our knees.
...and that is where it hit me! Christmas isn't dependent on our feelings... and if our feelings are to play a part, they must be found and put in order - right here... on our knees - at the foot of the Manger... where it all began! Chris Tomlin posted on facebook this morning that "The first Christmas gift given was worship. Still think it's the best gift we can give." Christmas begins on our knees. We strive for balance between our cultural Commercial Christmas, and the Christmas we know to be True... less is more... Christ is born... Help has already come - and is still here today!
I love all the glitz and glitter, the lights and carols and ribbons and bows... but in the hustle and bustle of all things Holiday, let us remember what is most important: friends, family, real life connections... heart to heart... invest in each other around the tree, yes - but also across the table and over the phone, even beyond holiday vacations. I went through the motions of Christmas in early December. I did the shopping, and crafting, and card making... I did a little baking, and writing, and mailing... all the while, trying to get it done early (as is my tradition!) so I could slow down and relax... truly enjoy the season. I found that I was nearly done, and yet not really 'feeling' in the holiday spirit myself. There was a heaviness... a cloudiness, if you will that seemed to be blocking what I wanted to see clearly. I wanted that magical feeling of Christmas... the giddyness and childlikeness - I wanted the excitement and the joy and the peace on earth, good will to men!
I would get glimpses of it... feel a stirring... Watched the snow falling - that helped! Wrapped the gifts... a warming from within awakened... but it was reading through some fellow bloggers posts on Advent that helped me to refocus and their words rang so true in my heart. We had friends come for an unexpected visit from South Africa. It was watching Mother and Child, out in the cold, in the dark of night - making their first ever snowman together that I remembered... joy is my choice... all that magic and childlikeness and peace... it became flesh and dwelt among us... Christmas came in a Manger - but He didn't stay there! He hung on a tree, and purchased my ransomed life long ago! I have been redeemed. Go ahead... whisper it to yourself... speak it out loud again and again... Do you feel it stirring?
Christmas is not a feeling... He is the Word made flesh... Christ the King born in Bethlehem... and thank God He isn't swayed or ruled or manipulated by how I feel! Your budget may be pulled tight, every which way... you may be facing huge life situations - health, relational, emotional... decisions that need to be made, changes just around the corner, unknown lurking and seemingly overshadowing you... but let me gently remind you (from one who also needed reminding) - He is the Light... He is Christmas... and He is HERE!
As I mentioned, a few kindred spirit writers helped me see Christmas more clearly... I encourage you to bookmark these links and read through their postings over the next few days... I believe their posts will stir in you that which you are looking for!
Nikki over at SimplyStriving has a series on Christmas songs that will bless your heart and stir your spirit as she invites you to really ponder the lyrics that are oh so familiar!
Ann - as always - shares words and heart, spirit and truth in a poetic stirring way over at A Holy Experience that will remind you of the Joy of the season, even in the midst of sadness and uncertainty.
Lisa Jo (tales from a Gypsy Mama) doesn't shy away from authentic real life and her post about looking for something good again will remind you that you won't have to look too far!
And lastly... two video clips that will stir up Christmas in you... and remind you that Christmas is just the beginning... but oh - what a Holy Night that began it all...
Merry Christmas! I pray this weekend you will find time to worship... to wonder at the Christmas story... and that you, too, will feel a stirring... a hope arising... a thankful heart for the gift of a Son!
Praying Christmas will come home to you today!