Christmas. That one word returns about 25 different results in my brain. I think about the Christmas tree sitting in our living room. The presents that were neatly wrapped just a few hours ago. The food sitting in the fridge. The parades and festivities that lead up to Christmas Day. Christmas Eve and services that lead our hearts in reverent worship that isn’t the same any other day that year. The impending New Year. Christmas lights. House and subdivisions that participate in full christmas cheer. I think about the kids who attended KidLIFE, and all the things they hoped to find on Christmas morning. I think about the living nativity I saw once, and all the Christmas pageants I’ve attended as a kid. I think about all the kids who receive gifts from the Angel tree and all the years my family went and helped with the organization. My grandfather’s story he tells about having to bring the plastic baby Jesus inside at night because “he gets cold” even in this southern heat.
But in all those things the thought of ministry never crosses my mind. After all, Christmas is a family day. Christmas Eve is for ministering to others, but by the 25th everyone is settled in and happy. Or so I thought. This afternoon I heard my phone indicate that I’d received a text. The number wasn’t saved so I assumed it was likely a wrong number delivering a generic “Merry Christmas” because they didn’t know their cousin changed their phone number a few years ago. I almost disregarded it completely, but the message preview let me know it wasn’t a stranger at all. To my surprise it was a family reaching out for prayer. Brokenness seems to have sharper edges during holiday seasons and healing wounds tend to ache more during times for family gatherings. A brief text explained how I could specifically pray, and the text closed with an apology for interrupting my Christmas. The truth was Christmas was over at my house. The wrapping had made it to the garbage can outside, the food was heated and chilling again in the fridge for later, candy had been consumed, and the gifts were post-inspection and laying around the room. Christmas was over. The family wasn’t interrupting anything because Christmas had already come and gone.
The thought landed funny in my mind as I tried to process the request for prayer and the apology. The apology wasn’t necessary because the rituals were completed. And I realized that Christmas is about spending time with family and those you love, but it is also about celebrating Jesus leaving His place and becoming man. Taking on all shame, brokenness, thoughts, actions, and words, and dying with them so we might be free. Free to live shameless, healed lives where our thoughts, actions, and words please Him. Jesus didn’t stop being the savior because we had gifts to open or because I was with my family. The calling on my life to minister to others didn’t pause because I had a present to unwrap. Christmas doesn’t just come and go. The celebration of Jesus’ life is a 365 day journey each year. How much more can we honor him on this day than to fall to our knees and seek His faithful love and mercy to heal broken situations? To trust Him to do exactly as He came to do.
Jesus is born. The Lord is good. Hallelujah.