Tag Archives: Christmas

We Wish You an Imperfect Christmas

Photo by @seb on Pexels.com

By Heather Walton

Today likely has not been your perfect Christmas. Many families are not meeting together because of concerns over transmitting or catching the virus. Some are meeting virtually, or driving by and social distancing. Some are getting together but wearing masks. Many are spending Christmas alone or only with their household.

The season may not have been near perfect either. Shopping was a challenge for some, and buying was prohibitive for many, especially those whose small businesses closed this year, or whose employers laid them off.

For some, the loss of a family member during the past year has made Christmas more of a time to dread than to welcome.

There was a young couple who could identify with a less-than-picture-perfect holiday. Mary and Joseph had no relatives gathered around to celebrate the first Christmas. In fact, they weren’t even at home or among family. And likely their family and friends were a little off-put by the “out of wedlock” pregnancy.

And then came the order that would take them on a grueling journey for an expectant mother, as the Roman soldiers announced the order that would take the couple several days journey near the end of Mary’s pregnancy. Once they got to Bethlehem, perhaps they could find lodging and rest. That would be perfect. Yet, that was not to be.

Weary from travel, yet without time to give in to fatigue, Joseph found himself scrambling to find lodging in a town that was packed beyond capacity due to the decree of a tyrannical ruler, Caesar Augustus, who really wanted to know how many people he could push around, tax, and disrupt. Nevertheless, this journey had been in God’s plan and provision. Though Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, it had been foretold that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

    one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

    from ancient days.

Micah 5:2 ESV

So here was this young, poor, possibly misunderstood young carpenter on his own with his very pregnant young wife, and as they arrive in Bethlehem, she goes into labor. She is not among the ladies of her town — her midwife is several days’ journey away. And on top of this, there’s no place open to them. Don’t you wonder if Joseph was panicky or if he calmly went about looking for shelter? I’ve always pictured him knocking on every door, begging someone take him seriously, but perhaps he simply trusted that God would not allow His Son to be born in the street. Either way, he got the job done, and the babe was born … in a barn.

Did your mother ever fuss at you, saying, “Child, were you born in a barn?” If so, I guess you could have told her that you were in good company, because Jesus was too.

But who would have expected the Lord of the universe to be born in a barn?

The first Christmas wasn’t what most people would have considered anywhere near perfect. However, it perfectly fulfilled God’s plan to save humanity.

This year has defied all the expectations we had on January 1, and the 20/20 hindsight is painful for many of us. Yet as this unconventional Christmas draws this unanticipated year to a close, let us remember that, if God could use a poor carpenter and his betrothed to bring His Son, the very representation of Himself, into this imperfect world, certainly He can reach down into our circumstances and work them for our good and His glory.

May we appreciate our perfect Lord and His perfect sovereignty over the affairs of humanity, and trust Him to work it into His tapestry of grace that reaches from the moment He said “Let there be light!” till the moment He invites us to the wedding supper of the Lamb.

Merry Imperfect Christmas to All!

Holidays have a gift for the grieving

By Heather Walton

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am gong there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place I am going.” John 14: 1-4

 

It’s almost Christmas—the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, for many people, this is a time when grief is highlighted. That special loved one is conspicuously absent in the midst of all the cheer. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without someone special, or perhaps it’s one in a string of many, but that may not lessen the pain. Whether the loved one was lost through death or a falling out, whether that loved one was human or a furry friend, whether a child had been born, unborn, or maybe just longed for, the holiday season can be less merry for you than for those around you.

A few Christmases ago I had just started going through the divorce process, and my kids had to leave to be with their dad’s side of the family at 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Some family and good friends invited me over, because they didn’t want me to be alone. It was so nice of them to include me, but I remember just being miserable and wanting to go home. Here I was, hanging out with families, but I was all alone. I really wasn’t in the Christmas spirit that year, and I was relieved when New Year’s came and went.

 

This year is not like that one for me. This year I am very happily married and I’m looking forward to Christmas. But there is still the heaviness of grief as my would-have-been due date approaches in early January. Honestly, I’m tired of grieving. I keep thinking I’ve turned a corner. But as I wrapped a baby gift for a friend this morning, the heaviness returned. This time of year, there is much to remind me that our baby is gone. We are celebrating the Savior’s birth, and there are a lot of songs about the “Baby” Jesus. Our little girl’s middle name would have been Noelle, and Noel is a popular word at Christmas.

 

But in both of these situations, and in anyone’s situation during a time of grief, the above Scriptures, which I read this morning in my Bible study, apply. In John 14, Jesus was addressing His disciples at the last supper, after He had told them that He would be betrayed and that He was going someplace where they couldn’t follow. Jesus comforted them, telling them that they should trust in Him and that He was going away to prepare a place for them.

 

Heaven is the place to which He referred. In heaven, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, there is no death, no divorce, no disease, no miscarriage, no ectopic pregnancy, no separation, no falling out, no sadness, no anger, no bitterness, no grief. In heaven, we will be reunited with many of the loved ones we have lost if they were followers of Christ or if they were children. In heaven, we will not feel the pain of separation or loss. The heaviness I feel over the loss of a child, the loneliness I felt over the loss of a marriage, and whatever grief you may feel over your losses will simply not be there anymore.

 

Jesus has asked us to trust Him on this. Since I have trusted Him with my life and my eternity, this really isn’t asking too much. And just because I choose to trust Him on this, that doesn’t mean that the heaviness is gone.

 

And even if this Christmas is hard for you because you have lost someone precious to you, remember that without Christmas, there would be no Easter. And Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is what makes eternal life possible for us and for our loved ones. Without Christmas, there would be no hope to recover our losses or to heal from them. Even through great trials and grief, Christmas is a gift.