The heart of Christmas

Four years ago, my thoughts on Christmas began to shift.  Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  I love the story of the birth of Jesus.  A pastor I had as a child always pointed out how Christmas was sort of pointless without the story of the cross.  While that’s true enough, I think knowing the two stories together are what makes Christmas so incredibly special.  I marvel at the thought of bringing a baby into the world knowing full well He was going to have to die a horrible death to save the very people who drove in the nails — both literally and figuratively.  What a gift!  What love!  What a God!

This line of thinking has hit home to me more since becoming a mother.  My first Christmas as a mother, my daughter was not quite three months old. She was a tiny, very helpless baby.  This Christmas I find myself yet again with an infant at Christmas, but this time the infant is almost 11 months old.  While he’s still helpless in many ways, he is gaining more and more independence every day.

My biggest thought this year has been how overwhelming it must have been for Mary as a mother.  All new mothers are overwhelmed, especially with first children.  If they tell you otherwise, they’re lying.  I can’t imagine how much more Mary must have been overwhelmed knowing that the baby she was caring for was the Son of God.  Talk about pressure! And I’ve thought about whether Jesus cried.  As a child, I was always told that He didn’t cry.  As a mom, I think about that now and think how difficult that would be.  How did she know when He was hungry?  How did she know when He needed to be changed?  How did He communicate with her before He could communicate with words?  The logistics of it all seems so tricky.  I’m not so sure that he wouldn’t have cried sometimes.  He was a baby.

The sweet kiddos who keep me on my toes year-round and make me so thankful not only for them but for the God who loves them even more than I do. (Photo by Portrait Innovations)

And then I wonder what his toddlerhood was like as I stop my son from removing items out of the garbage for the 8th time of the day.  Did Mary have to admonish little Jesus for getting into the trash or playing with Joseph’s tools?  How does a perfect baby learn?  How do you teach Him?

I don’t know the logistics.  I don’t know whether Jesus explored and pushed boundaries and tried putting every single piece of lint he found into his mouth.  I don’t know if Mary always maintained a patient composure when dealing with these trying phases.  Or maybe they just didn’t happen.  As the only perfect person to walk the earth, maybe Jesus somehow innately knew not to do things like try and remove trash from the can or lick the dog.

What I do know for sure this Christmas season is that God sent His Son to save the world so that we might be free to love and live in Him.  I know that I am more thankful for that gift than ever before because I want it for my children.  I look at them and love them so completely and to the core of my very being and want them to know God’s love.

There are so many theological topics that people can get tripped up on.  But, the one thing remains and should always be the center is that God is love.  He is the reason for the season.  He is everything.  And He is all that matters.  The small details, the specifics don’t matter in the face of the great love of God.

Those are the things I’m thinking about this Christmas season.  As you gather with your families to celebrate, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

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