We have a Little People nativity that sits under our tree. Despite our best efforts, it rarely is all in order. Sometimes the animals are sitting on the dining room table. Sometimes baby Jesus is riding in a dump truck. Almost always the pieces are scattered all over our house, only to be returned to the angelic scene after the kids are in bed. Our nativity scene is pretty disheveled, which in many ways is a microcosm of our current season of life.
We are just coming out of over a week of sickness in our house. What started as a bad chest cold for all three kids turned into three ear infections. I guess our motto is go big or go home when it comes to sickness, so Merry Christmas to us. We went big this time. Because of all the sickness I’ve been homebound, buried in dirty tissues, and pretty much exhausted, which is a recipe for disaster for me. I’ve been emotional. I’ve been cranky. I’ve been frustrated. And I’ve felt little Christmas cheer. I actually can’t remember what day it is, let alone remember that Christmas is coming soon.
I was lamenting to my husband the other day that, among other things, my heart doesn’t feel ready for Christmas. I haven’t had the time to stop to think about the incarnation or my own longing for Christ’s return. I haven’t even heard a full Advent sermon yet. I’m way behind on my Advent reading. And then there is the Christmas shopping and wrapping that I still need to finish. On top of it all, I’ve hardly been a joyful person these last few days.
But Advent 2015 won’t give me a do-over, so this is what I have to work with this year. A cranky attitude, sick kids, and not enough sleep. In a lot of ways I feel too sinful to celebrate Christmas in all its fullness.
And that’s exactly why Christ came.
The hymn “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” says that Jesus came to release us from our sins, set us free, and provide us rest in him alone. I need a repeat dose of that this Christmas season.
I can get confused about the purpose of Christmas being all about happiness, sugar, and Hallmark movies on repeat (and I love all of those things). But that is not what my heart needs most at Christmas time. What I need is the baby that we celebrate. What I need is the rest that only Christ provides. What I need is the freedom from sin that only comes from his finished work on the cross.
Christmas is not for people who have it all together. It’s for sinners like you and me. It’s for a mom who snaps at her children because they interrupt her sleep again. It’s for people who are cranky with their spouses when they try to offer them advice. It’s for the man who yells at the driver who cuts him off. It’s for people who are greedy, people who are selfish, people who hate Christ. Christmas is for the broken and the weary. Christmas is for sinners, for all of us.
So I may not have it all together this Christmas. And neither does my nativity scene. But that’s exactly why that baby is in the manger in the first place—to set me free from my sin and give me hope beyond my circumstances.
Christmas is for sinners. And that’s good news for all of us.