A big thank you to Taryn Flake for our Christmas Eve devotional.
Daily Scripture Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Aw man! We don’t want to read about the crucifixion today. It’s Christmas Eve! We want to picture the nativity as all of our sets display it…clean white clothes…Mary kneeling, cuddling the newborn Savior with a smile on her face…Joseph looking onto the scene with loving eyes and hand on his heart, the ideal adoptive father. It’s the perfect Christmas card.
I hate to burst your bubble, but I can’t imagine the scene was actually that pristine. I’ve given birth twice and it is not pretty. Yes, at the end the mother is cuddling her newborn with a smile on her face, but she also has sweat on her brow and an extremely tired look on her face. Anything white is probably soiled at this point. Mary’s postpartum figure is quite astounding in most nativity sets, even with the robes, but realistically, the baby bump is still there immediately after giving birth (and sometimes long afterwards). The father is probably just relieved that it is all over and that his wife is okay, with a tired look in his eyes as well. And don’t forget that the Holy family is surrounded by smelly animals. So this is what I’m imagining on Christmas Eve with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
We need to stop envisioning the perfect Christmas in our own lives. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. We set everything up in our minds as going perfectly, but life is far from perfect. There are going to be spills, mishaps, kids who don’t like their presents, people that fight, people who can’t come to Christmas, the wrong songs, bad food, broken ornaments, lights that don’t work, running out of wrapping paper, etc. Instead of expecting perfection and being disappointed when our Christmases are far from perfect, we need to learn to embrace the imperfections in our lives and possibly expect that things are going to go wrong. The first Christmas was far from perfect…they weren’t given a room in the inn, the child was laid in a manger, the first guests were smelly shepherds, and God came to earth as a baby, which was not at all what anyone was expecting.
This Isaiah passage also gives a whole new meaning to the line, “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?” This child was literally born to save the world. That was the entire reason that Jesus was born. We don’t want to think of the crucifixion on Christmas Eve, but without Christmas, there is no Easter.
If it troubles you to picture the baby Jesus as the one that gets crucified, remember that there is a little baby in each one of us. That person who cut you off in traffic was once a baby. The person who took the last Christmas ham in the store was once a baby. I believe that the innocence of babies is the most Chrst-like that we can ever be on earth. And if we can remember that we were all like that once, before sin, we can remember that there is a little bit of Christ in each one of us, even in those of us who are hardest to love.
In what ways does picturing an imperfect first Christmas help you let go of the expectations to have a perfect Christmas?
Who in your life is the hardest to love? How can you see the innocence that they once embodied in their lives today?
How can you remember the suffering and death of Jesus today on Christmas Eve?
Dear Lord, please allow us to remember that the only reason Jesus was born was to save the world by death on a cross. Allow us to embrace the imperfections in our lives because we know that Heaven is the only perfect place and Jesus was the only perfect person. Please allow us to see Christ in others, even those who are hardest to love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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