Last Christmas, my mom and I tackled errands together in chilly December weather.
As we buzzed through store after store with a list that always seemed to do more stretching than shrinking, I noticed how hectic everything was. A continual pattern of long lines, crowded aisles, and packed parking lots accompanied the bright, glittering decorations and festive music.
People rushed to purchase gifts and groceries in order to be properly prepared for the holidays just as we did.
Sadness spread through my heart. I wished things could be different, that somehow time would slow and we all could celebrate the Savior’s coming peacefully, quietly, joyfully—but hectic life during the holidays was “normal” and expected by everyone, myself included.
Christmas Chaos – Stress, hurry, and fatigue
Although “Joy to the World” is an acclaimed song that is usually on repeat during Christmas, our numerous traditions have packed so much—too much—into our schedules for tangible joy to thrive.
Such busyness cultivates stress, hurry, and fatigue instead of a quiet wonder and awe during the season of Christ’s birth. Most people don’t have time to catch their breath between December 1st and 25th. There is little time left to be still and know He is God, God with us. (Psalm 46:10; Matthew 1:13).
Is it possible to slow down enough to genuinely enjoy Christmas? To quietly worship Jesus and thank our King for coming as a humble baby in a dingy stable, who became poor by putting aside lavish riches of heaven for us, for our sins? (2 Corinthians 8:9)
His Quiet Coming – Would we have noticed?
I wonder what I would have done if I was lodging at the crowded inn at Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth instead of crossing off a to-do list in crowded stores. Would I have been so caught up in the swirling, boisterous noise that my distracted heart neglected to sense the Savior was coming, soon? That He was near in the womb of Mary when the innkeeper declared there wasn’t room for them.
As Jesus’ newborn lungs breathed oxygen for the first time on the earth He created, would the wail of His cries have reached my ears?
Maybe my heart would have been too crowded to care.
Would there have been a place for this miraculous Baby, God in the flesh, in the center of my distracted chaos?
My hope is that I would have, but I honestly don’t know. I’ve missed the miracle of His coming before at Christmas time in the dazzling brilliance of gifts under the trees, in the griping attitude as I compiled a long grocery list of ingredients for Christmas goodies and sides, and in the ugly baggage of my own sinful heart.
Making Room in Our Hearts – A commitment to quiet worship
But this year can be different.
Let’s commit to making a place for quiet worship in our hearts during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It might be in the minutes before bed reading a passage of Scripture as the tree lights cast a warm glow in the darkness of your living room, singing a praise song, or showing compassion to a sick, struggling friend, being there to comfort them in the bleakness of a hospital room.
Whatever we choose, whatever opportunities come—let’s take time to hide ourselves away, to linger before Him, tears falling in fresh awe of Him because He came to us that night in Bethlehem so that we could come to the Cross.