"And so this is Christmas..." Strains of one of my favorite Christmas CD's wafted through the house as we decorated--almost drowned out by the squabbling of my children setting up the nativity scene. Good times!!
For years I didn't have a nativity set because I wanted just the right one. It had to be a bit rustic and kind of authentic looking. About six years ago a friend gave one to me and it's perfect. Perfect because it reminds us of our good friends every year and perfect because the stable is made out of barn wood and all the little characters are country and homey. Everyone wants to be part of setting it up, but this year somehow two of my kids started on it without the rest of the family. I waited to see how they would negotiate the process without my intervention. Things went okay for a while, but then got a little heated. Seems the problem was that one child wanted to arrange everything nicely, like a picture so you could see each figure. I understood her point completely. I like things to be esthetically pleasing. However, her brother was adamant--they came to see Jesus!! They couldn't see Him if they were all standing around looking nice.
I had to think on that for a while.
I like to think I've come a long way in this area. I'm pretty unconcerned about what the general public thinks of me. However, I've recently been reminded of how uncomfortable I am when someone I respect doesn't think much of something I value. I am uncomfortable with disappointing my friends and family. And you know what? It is difficult to see Him when I'm focused looking nice.
A lot of the stresses that come with Christmas have to do with this whole business of "looking nice"... The process of buying gifts that feel more like an obligation than a gift. Making decisions about how we celebrate so as not to disappoint anyone. Our kids may helpfully point out that their friends get more presents or cooler presents. We may feel pressures and expectations from our extended families. The list goes on.
The angels declared to the shepherds that Christ had come to bring peace. Ironically, the squabbling of my children helped to bring that peace back to my heart. There's no peace in trying to look nice to everyone. You can't please all the people all of the time. But there's a tremendous amount of peace when you go "see Jesus".
Attempts have been made to rearrange the nativity scene so that it looks nicer, but it doesn't take long before all those little shepherds and wisemen are crowded around the manager once again and I smile.
Come, let us adore Him.
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!" Isaiah26:3