---- — It wasn’t meant to be this way. On a starry night those centuries ago when Heaven slipped, squalling, onto hay, it was silent. No impeccable nursery in coordinating colors. No beautifully appointed birthing suite, scented candles or colored lights.
In a little town called Bethlehem, the Savior of the world took his first breath in a stable mean with naught but the beasts of the field attending. Photographs could not capture the earthy smells, the chill in the air at this, the first Nativity. No Pinterest moment, the child’s birth, and no Instagram frames in sepia to be shared with a multitude of followers.
It was one of history’s two defining moments. The Eternal, wrapped in skin, shaped like a baby, invaded Earth. He came as a babe, for a fallen world, for sinful humanity, and a way was made at last to a righteous God, to the Holy of Holies. And we, his people, rejoice.
Oh, how we rejoice! And we should. Because of the babe; because of Father’s love, our sins are forgiven. We are made righteous, and we have the promise of heaven one day. This is the wildest good news a weary world could receive. There is hope for us here, and glory awaits.
This is why we celebrate Christmas. It’s a grand and glorious birthday party, the biggest one ever, for every good reason in the Book. Families celebrate birthdays together, for each child’s arrival is a precious gift.
“We’re so glad you came.” That’s what the parties and presents all say. “And you are deeply loved.” They say that, too.
How I love all the trimmings of Christmas. The lights. The greens. The fresh tree we get each year. The colors that shine and sparkle. Presents wrapped in cheer, topped with pretty bows, and over it all, the music of the season infusing joy, hope and something indefinable that quickens the heart.
Without apology, I revel in the beauty and hubbub of Christmas. It’s the pressure and stress that often come with it that I can scarcely tolerate.
Standing in a sea of humanity on Black Friday, I felt it — the creeping anxiety, the pressure to get the best deals that are only good until 1 p.m., and I folded. Fortunately, Mr. Schrock is a rock, and he came through. “It’s not worth it,” he said calmly. “Don’t worry. We’ll get it later.”
The other stress that steals in, fog like, to cloud my perspective is the peculiar notion that somehow it has to be perfect. Beautifully decorated. Spotlessly clean. Just the right gifts with a plethora of treats, all handmade, cooling on the counter. Perfect like Pinterest, incredible on Instagram and terrific on Twitter. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
Which is a pipe dream and utterly unattainable. For me, at least, and, I’m guessing, for you. As much as I’d like to, I can’t pull it off, and therein lies the rub.
In thinking this over one day when I felt the pressure rise, I went looking for truth, which always sets us free. Here is where I landed. Not one of those things is inherently wrong. In fact, all of the elements add richness and can be expressions of our love for those around us and for Christ himself. But the pursuit of perfection cannot replace my pursuit of the Child. It can’t.
The picture that came to me that day was of the holy family, pregnant Mary atop the donkey, and Joseph, robed and sandaled, knocking, knocking, knocking. On this door here, on a rough-hewn door there, and then down an alleyway, yet one more door. And always, the answer’s the same, “No room. I’m sorry sir, but there’s no room in this inn.”
No room in the inn. For the Savior of mankind and his weary, earthly parents, no room, and door after door remains closed.
A lump rises in my throat, tears prick instant, and in this moment, I know what I can do. I cannot attain perfection with every outward thing, but I can do this: I can open wide the door of my heart so the Child can find a home.
I can open my heart, and I have. There is and ever shall be room in my “inn” for Jesus. Because I’ve said yes and because he’s come in, I have so much reason to celebrate this season. This is how I’ll do it.
From here till the end of the holiday season, I am going to marinate in the love of God. Every time I see the lights, I will think of the Great Light that came. Every time I see the greens, I will remember the abundant life he came to give, and I will ask for a double portion. Every time I hear the music, I will turn my heart to worship and joy, so grateful for the Gift.
From this place, I will let that life, light and love flow through me to those around me. And that, I think, shall make the most perfect kind of a Christmas.