Doug Creamer: Christmas 2016
Christmas is almost here. Hopefully the shopping and the cooking are almost done. My tradition for most of my life includes wrapping my gifts on Christmas Eve. I know I am looking forward to spending some time with family and friends, getting some extra rest, and having time to reflect on 2016.
I am also looking forward to the Christmas Eve service. Our pastor’s mother had a vision for the service. She felt led to create 100 Christmas stockings to be given out to needy families during the service. I could not imagine how it would happen. Then I walked into the sanctuary the other day and saw 100 hand knitted, filled stockings hanging along the front of the church. I couldn’t believe how wonderful and magical it all seemed.
My pastor and his wife have worked to identify some children who will be getting very little for Christmas. They sent personal invitations to those families and called them to make sure they are coming. In a very real and tangible way, we want to bring the spirit of Christmas to these families. We want to offer them the hope that Christ offered us when he came as a little baby born in a manger.
I find it difficult at times to hold onto my faith, hope, and God’s unconditional love when everything goes crazy during the holiday season. There are so many commitments to be here and go there. The demands on my time feel overwhelming. This year has been different. This year I have determined I will live in the moment, no matter how crazy the Christmas season feels. I have often wondered what it was like for Mary and Joseph to live in their moment. A required trip to Bethlehem couldn’t have come at a worse time. Imagine arriving in town only to discover there was no room left in the inn. Then, to make matters worse, the baby chooses that moment to come into the world. Mary needed shelter and help; where were they going to go and what were they going to do? Where was God?
We can’t always see God working behind the scenes. We don’t always understand His plans or purposes. All we can do is take one step at a time and know that He has made good plans for our future. Joseph must have questioned everything as Mary struggled to bring Jesus into the world. How could he be the father to God’s son when he didn’t provide a good place for them to have the child? Whether it was a stable or a cave, it was no place for God’s son.
Joseph must have decided to stay in Bethlehem for at least two years because that is how long it took the wise men to arrive. Joseph worked to build his business and reputation in Bethlehem and then shortly after the wise men leave, God tells them to move again. How could that make any sense? Trusting in God and His divine plan required faith.
We celebrate the arrival of our Savior as a joyous occasion, but for Mary and Joseph it was a day-by-day struggle with faith. Their journey to raise our Savior required that they trust God in impossible circumstances. They had to listen for God’s voice and live obediently. Sometimes God’s provision was miraculous, other times required hard work. They had to trust a loving God to meet their needs, to know their circumstances, and to believe that He was watching out for them.
Mary and Joseph had to trust God every step of the way, especially since they were raising His son. They didn’t always understand everything, they had to have faith. They knew more than anyone else that God loves us because He sent His son into the world. They knew the power of hope because their child was the hope of the whole earth. They knew that faith could pull you through dire circumstances as theirs had done over and over again.
I want to encourage you to open your hearts to God’s love. Jesus came to the earth so we could know that God loves us. We can trust God with our future because we know He is creating it out of His love for us. The path we will follow will require faith, but having faith in a good God should be easy. I know that I can look at tomorrow with hope in my heart because Jesus came and died for me. Christmas is all about having faith in a God who loves us and who is planning a hopeful future for us. God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Doug Creamer’s books include ‘Encouraging Thoughts.’ Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org