My husband and I live near Seattle, Washington, but our five children and their spouses are spread across the northern hemisphere. One lives near the Canadian border in Washington, others are in New York, in Wisconsin, and in Ecuador, South America. Our closest grandchild is 2,988 miles away. As Christmas approaches, I long for all of them to be under one roof. I yearn to gaze into their eyes, watch their animated faces, and listen, as they share stories of their lives far into the night. My arms ache to hold the little ones in this season when families make strong efforts to be together. Only two will be home this year, but I’m still excitedly awaiting Christmas! Isn’t everyone?
Well, no. I overheard a fabric clerk grumbling, “I hate Christmas.” Retail workers have less time with family because of extended shopping hours. Others dread more credit card debt, unmet expectations, or just plain loneliness. In difficult home situations, holiday time together may cause strife, not peace. Christmas time isn’t joyous for everyone.
Was it joyous for God the Father, when Jesus left home that first Christmastime? His Son wasn’t just traveling a few miles. It was an unprecedented trip; God becoming man.
Then why did Jesus come here as he did? Why become human, instead of appearing as the powerful being that he is? He did it, “…for the joy that was set before him (bringing us to God), endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). His sacrificial life of love and giving is a model that most people admire, whether they are believers or not. But his sacrificial death is harder to grasp.
Sacrificial living and giving of ourselves may give us credibility and open doors to talk about the amazing plan of why he came. Some ideas to get you started:
- Instead of your usual women’s Christmas party gift exchange, buy items for a local women’s shelter, or other charitable group. Gift-wrap them together in a festive gathering. Invite neighbors to join you. Since our culture expects charitable giving at Christmas, they’re more likely to join you for this type of event than something more “church-y.”
- Open your home. Have a progressive house-to-house fun event, giving out a Christmas symbol at each home, talking about their meanings.
- Talk to family members about a gift or donation you can give, like “Mercy Guinebor.” This hospital in Chad provides support for women and children. (www.wmclb.com)
- Provide gifts for children of fathers or mothers in prison through “Angel Tree.” Spend intentional time with those families. (http://www.prisonfellowship.org/programs/angel-tree/register)
Jesus came wrapped in humanity to provide a way for all of us to come home to his joyous home that he’s preparing for us. Then we’ll truly be home—not just for Christmas—but forever!