Appreciating Jesus’ Birth and Anticipating His Return

Matt Redman wrote a song called “The Heart of Worship.” It conveys the longing to come back to the heart of worship where everything is about Jesus. I think we all need this reminder that:

When the music fades…

When you feel alone…

When the marriage is over…

When the healing doesn’t come…

When you feel numb inside…

All of these things are common experiences for people in our neighborhoods, churches, and cities we call “home.”

What is it you hold onto in the midst of these tragedies?

The other day I had to ask myself this question because I still felt very real hurt and pain over the loss of my wife Jennica and the fact that the Christmas season is upon us because I am still trying to understand what doing Christmas looks like. There is so much joy, light, and life that is filling up all over people’s doorsteps, stereos, and Facebook posts. It’s a good thing for those who can enjoy it; and a difficult thing for us who are trying to enjoy it. I say “us” to include the whole of humanity that is faced with recognizing the sense of sadness, loss, and grief (of many things such as jobs, dreams, homes, etc.) that comes as you try to figure out how to celebrate Jesus’ birth with your loved ones, church community, and neighbors.

I wish I had answers. I’m still processing how to do it. So far what I’ve learned is that sometimes I can legitimately enjoy activities and other times I can only enjoy the fact that other people can enjoy things about the Christmas season. What I do know is the appreciation and sense of wonder at the fact that Jesus chose to enter our world as a vulnerable, poor, ordinary human-being in order to lay down his life for us has increased. As well as the increase in my anticipation that he will return to fully set up the kingdom of God here on earth where we have perfect relationship with him and others in glorified, healed bodies.

I guess “My Grown-up Christmas Wish” this year (and I hope increasingly every year), is that you would know that no matter what spiritual, emotional, or physical condition you are feeling in that Jesus’ name and promise of “God With Us” is fully realized by the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart. He will point us to worship Jesus and help us receive his love even when the dark places of our hearts and lives threaten to intimidate us into lonely corners devoid of any seeming joy, light, and life that is promised by our Father in Heaven.

Two questions I want to leave you with today:

1. How can you spread the message of Christmas- that Jesus came to enter into and heal the pain in our lives- with those you are near?

2. What will you do to allow God to lead you closer to him for dependence, receiving his love, and healing this Christmas season?

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