by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Working in a church setting has its ups and downs, especially during the holidays. My experience with Christmas falls into either the “feast” or “famine” category. There have been seasons when I experienced deep closeness to the Lord and there have been seasons when I felt all alone—which is akin to one of those Hallmark Channel movies where someone is standing outside in the snow and watching everyone through a frosty window mingle around the tree at a Christmas party.
I know it shouldn’t matter whether I’m in the “Christmas spirit” (whatever that is) but I find myself feeling weirded out if I’m not. Or being worried that Christmas will come and go and I will have missed it somehow. Honestly, sometimes I’m so overwhelmed (or cynical) by all that Christmas has become that I may not miss it that much anyway.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. This year, I’ve already broken out the Christmas playlists and crafted a homemade wreath, and it’s not even December yet. I even bought our kids’ stocking stuffers. All to no avail. At this writing, I still feel pretty meh.
The good news is that Christmas will still come. And it won’t be any less glorious just because I’m not in the mood to receive it. As a matter of fact, my heart’s reluctance is a great reminder to me of why I so desperately need Christmas.
I do take some comfort in the fact that Jesus’ advent wasn’t received that well back in the day, either. Angels announced the arrival and the only people who showed up were poor shepherds. More than likely, the wise men came much later, only to be greeted by evil King Herod who then proceeded to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem in an effort to stop the new king from ascending to the throne. This would not be considered any cause for joy.
And yet, the angels rejoiced because they knew that the promised One had arrived. God had come near. From this point forward, everything would change. The Messiah would transform the world and become the center point of all of human history.
In a season like this one—where my expectations get dimmer by the day and I realize my heart is more similar to Herod’s than I care to admit, I can rejoice in the Good News that comes faithfully every year in Christmas: God has come near to us. He has humbled Himself by becoming a human, entering our limitations and frailty and brokenness in order to redeem it and somehow give us life, even when we’re not ready to receive it.
Joy to the world!
The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And heaven and nature sing!
Perhaps there is hope for me yet. He is more than able to prepare Himself room in this sin-saturated heart. I know I’ll be okay. I will be okay—not because everything is perfectly decorated or I get all my shopping done—but because I know that even with my sinful resistance, He loves me just the same. His grace is sufficient to meet me where I am and draw me back into tender fellowship with Him. He has come near. He pulls me close. And I rejoice.