The Christmas season can be one of the most stressful times of year. Whether you’re making travel plans, or you’re making preparations for friends and family members who will be traveling to you, you probably spend a pretty large portion of the days leading up to Christmas trying to check things off your to-do list so you can ensure that everyone around you has a good Christmas.
It’s easy to let the chaos, stress, and consumerism that Christmas has become turn into the most important part of the holiday season for you. However, as children of God, we understand that the Christmas season is truly about the birth of Christ, and how His arrival changed the course of our eternities.
There’s certainly no way to completely wipe out the amount of stress associated with the holidays. However, there are some steps that you can take to allow yourself to better focus on what this time of year is truly about. While it’s easy to get caught up in food that needs to be prepared, gifts that need to be purchased, and everything else that goes along with this time of year, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what the story of the first Christmas truly means.
There are multiple people involved in the story of the first Christmas, and the values that they displayed give us a great starting point when we want to spend time meditating on the story of Christ’s birth. Today, allow the Holy Spirit to help you slow down so you can take some time to begin reflecting on the events of the first Christmas, the men and women involved in the story, and what that day meant for you. You will quickly realize that God is still reaching out to humanity just as strongly as He was when He sent His Son on the first Christmas.
Reflection #1: You Are Chosen
Luke 1:28-33 (NLT)
Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, “Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end.”
Months before Christ was born in a barn and laid to rest in a feed trough, an angel appeared to a teenage virgin girl to let her know that God had chosen her for the most important mission in human history. The same God who chose Abraham to be the father of the Jewish nation, the same God who hand-selected Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, and the same God who chose David to be the King of Israel had just hand-selected Mary to be the vessel that would bring His Son into the world.
Can you imagine what Mary must have felt like in that moment? As part of our Christmas reflections, spend some time putting yourself in the shoes of this young lady who just found out that she was going to give birth even though she had never been with a man. Not only was she going to give birth, but she was going to provide life to the Son of God! Mary could have refused. God would not have forced her to take part in His plan. However, Mary chose to go with God’s plan.
No, God is not going to ask you to be the vessel that His Son comes into the world through. He has already done that, and the next time Christ comes to the world, it will be to take His Church to Heaven with Him. However, we are still called to be carriers of Christ to everyone that we come in contact with. Reflect on ways that you can be more receptive to God’s plan for you to be a bearer of His Son to the people that you interact with every day.
Reflection #2: Being an Encourager
Luke 1:42-46 (NLT)
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.”
Once Mary had received the news that would forever change her life, she went off to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, had just received some life-changing news of their own. Even though they were both well past the age of having children, God also miraculously blessed them with a child. Their child would grow up to be John the Baptist, who would serve as a forerunner for Christ.
For the sake of this Christmas reflection, look at how Elizabeth reacted when Mary showed up at her home. She immediately started praising God for the life that was growing in Mary’s womb. Elizabeth knew that God had promised her a child, and she was equally as confident that God had blessed Mary. Undoubtedly, Mary was scared. However, Elizabeth saw an opportunity to encourage her much younger cousin, and she took advantage of it.
The Christmas season gives us a wonderful opportunity to encourage others. While it’s a time of joy and celebration for many of us, there are millions of people who see this time of year as a time of pain. Maybe they dealt with abuse as children, or perhaps they’re spending their first Christmas without a loved one. Whatever the source of their pain is, look for opportunities to be an encourager to those who are hurting.
Reflection #3: Every Day Matters
Luke 2:6-7 (NLT)
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
Finally, take a moment and reflect on the fact that the first Christmas came without any sort of fanfare. While we count down to December 25 and all of the things that the day brings about, there was no one anticipating the first Christmas except for Mary and Joseph. They weren’t even home to celebrate the birth of their first Son with their families, because they, like everyone else, had gone into Bethlehem to be taxed. On the surface, it looked like another ordinary day.
With that in mind, reflect on the fact that every day is a day that is a prime opportunity for the miraculous. The first Christmas came and went without any fanfare, so every day doesn’t have to seem important to be important. On the day that the entire world changed forever, no one heard about it other than some shepherds who the angels appeared to. Today, just like every day, is an opportunity for God to change your life and the lives of those around you through the gift of His Son.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for what the Christmas season really means. Help me to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas in a time where it’s easy to get caught up in the consumerism. Help me to be a better vessel of Your glory, an encourager to others, and to realize that every day is a chance for a miracle. In Christ’s name, Amen.