A Christmas Story

I do love the Christmas season. The music. The movies. The opportunity to bake, and cook, and give gifts. The special decorations, especially the Christmas tree. In the process of getting ready for this Christmas, my thoughts turned to last Christmas; to the one that did not really go as planned. The Christmas that inspired a blog post called “Red”, which a song that is about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas and the only thing that really matters at the end of the day.

We live far from our families because of my husband’s job, and our Christmas celebrations as of late have been (based on the worldly vision) less than ideal. Thankfully we have been blessed with wonderful friends, whom have given us company and/or a place to go. Last year however, because of sickness, it was just the four of us. In the midst of constant coughing and having to cancel plans, it seemed as though that Christmas had been “ruined”. But looking back on it after the dust had settled, it was in fact quite perfect. And the reason was, Jesus. He had still been born, He still brought joy, and He still gave us something to celebrate. This year we are still with out family gatherings, although we do get to see two members of our family, the family aspect is still largely missing. And this got me thinking about expectations. Expectations, about the ideal Christmas, or the perfect Christmas. Images of snow, family sitting by the fireplace, and the perfect dinner. This is the view that the world has for Christmas, but the truth is Christmas is about a Baby, a Baby who brought true and lasting joy. All that other stuff, although awesome, is extra.

This is the comfort for those whose Christmas is less than ideal for whatever reason. And if you are in that position believe me, I know how you feel. But I will encourage you to not allow your expectations to cloud what is right in front of you. Focus on who is there, rather than who is not there. In the absence of family, think of someone whom you could bless, someone that you may not have thought of, if your family was present. Heaven has a knack of invading our ideas of Christmas, and in my experience, I have found that Heaven has much better ideas. Expectations tend to steal our joy, and we could miss something important.

One could say that Anakin allowed expectations to steal his joy. He had envisioned in his head the way he thought his life should be, or what he thought his opportunities should look like. He was left wanting, he had no peace, he felt like he was owed something, and when it did not come in the package he expected, he fell. Luke, on the other hand, when he decided to save Anakin, went into it with no expectations. He was just going to love on Anakin in best way he knew how, complete with a “come what may” attitude. And the result was something beautiful, amazing, and for some (to include Anakin) unexpected.

I hope that you will allow yourself to be moved by the pulse of Heaven, which is joy. The joy of Jesus. The joy that the celebration of His birth brings.

May your Christmas not be weighed down by expectation. May your Christmas be focused on Jesus. May Heaven’s ideas invade your ideas. May your Christmas be joyful. May your Christmas be blessed.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Color Red

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is being able to listen to Christmas music. I start listening to it the second that Thanksgiving is over, even before any Christmas decorations have gone up. I might also cheat a little bit and listen to some in October, mainly because I am not a huge fan of Halloween. This year among the Christmas classics like, “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night”, I heard a new song called “Red” by a Christian group called Shine Bright Baby (they’re all girls). The song is about the colors seen at Christmas time like silver and gold, or the different lights on a Christmas tree like yellow or green. The chorus is about the color that means the most, the color red.

The song describes the color has being the color of love, the promise of the blood (Jesus’ blood) and declaring the message that, “..heaven’s son is here to save.” The song speaks about focusing on Jesus’ birth as being the true meaning and the most important part of Christmas. “Red” should be the most important color, the one our eyes should be fixed on. The birth of Jesus is a source of great joy for those who believe. The Biblical story of the birth of Jesus is outlined in the book of Luke in chapter 2, one important element is the angels that come from heaven to deliver the good news to shepherds who were near by, Luke 2:10 says, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.” So Jesus equals joy.

The message of this song meant a great deal to the type of Christmas our family had this year, it was not necessarily a bad Christmas, just not a great one. We were visited by a lovely flu-like cold that caused our daughter to miss last couple of days of school before Christmas break. The sickness hit me pretty hard as well, messing up my plans to bake more than one type of cookie and do a craft a day with the kids to count down to Christmas. Our son got hit not once but twice, the second time hit on Christmas Eve and he coughed pretty much all night. This left him with little to no excitement on Christmas morning and asleep (yet still coughing) by Christmas afternoon. We had cancel our plans to have dinner with “Daddy’s work friends” as our daughter says and had Spinach Dip for Christmas dinner. Add to that a dash of homesickness and it was not the perfect Christmas most people imagine they will have on December 1st.

Thankfully, as the song displays, Christmas can not be ruined by sickness or missed dinners. Jesus was still born, we (my husband, daughter and son) were together, we may not have been healthy but, we were together. We got to play in the snow two days after Christmas, we watched all movies on our Christmas movie list and, read “The Night before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. We have a home, we had a tree and it had presents underneath. Plus another awesome thing about this time of year, the promise of a New Year. We rang in 2015, surrounded by friends and fireworks. When one looks at everything that went right and the absolute joy of Jesus, it was pretty awesome Christmas after all.

This also made me think more about the color red and what that might mean to Anakin. It was the color of his lightsaber when he was Darth Vader, and while that may not seem like a good thing, it meant very simply that he was alive. Anakin Skywalker could have died any number of ways, Palpatine could have killed him when he first arrived at the Jedi Temple as a little boy. He could died in any of the battles during the Clone Wars or Palpatine could have thrown him out of the same window that Mace Windu had just thrown through. Of course he very easily could have died during his battle with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, but he didn’t. Red was Anakin’s second chance, he was still alive to make a change, to finally live out his amazing calling. Anakin’s life was for certain not perfect, but there were many elements that worked together to create something pretty amazing in the end.

Red stands for promise, in the colors of Christmas it is Jesus coming into the world and becoming the least of these, to grant us a second chance (and third chance and forth chance).

Red is our saving grace.