The Christmas story, as we visualize it, is one of simplicity and beauty, but in reality it was complicated, uncomfortable and messy. Mary is unmarried and pregnant, unacceptable in her culture. She claims she is pregnant with God’s child. Her fiancé is ready to break off their engagement, when an angel confirms Mary’s story; yet, who else will believe? The couple is forced to make a 70-mile trip to pay taxes in Bethlehem. While there, Mary goes into labor with no place to stay. The stable wasn’t filled with clean hay and groomed, pleasant smelling animals. It was dirty and cold and foul! They certainly didn’t dream that the beginning of their married life would be so chaotic. Just when things might settle down, they are forced to flee to Egypt to protect their child from Herod. It was not the picture-perfect first Christmas we love to visualize!

Scriptures
Matt 1:18-21; Ps 46:10; Matt 2:13; Matt 2:16; Matt 2:19-21; Ps 34:18-19

Verses
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. (Matt 1:18)

Thought
In the movie Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold is determined to have a perfect Christmas. After faulty lights, neighbor conflicts, a house full of wacky relatives, and a Christmas bonus that doesn’t materialize, he is on the verge of a break down. How easy it is for us to have our expectations for Christmas, the gifts, the festivities, the food and family dashed when things don’t work out the way we plan. We need to realize that spending time with friends and family is more important than schedules, dinner and stuff. The most important thing is that our hopes are placed in Jesus Christ. When God shows up it’s truly Christmas despite the chaos and craziness.

Questions
Are your expectations for Christmas unrealistic? Are you allowing Christmas to unfold in your heart or are you trying to control Christmas? Do you see God’s hand and feel his love even in the hustle and bustle? Are you taking time to worship the Lord and Savior?

Response
Relax. Enjoy the simple things…a carol, some lovely decorations or the excitement of a child. Allow Christmas to affect you. Don’t try to affect Christmas.

Prayer
Lord, I want to feel the joy, excitement and love of Christmas. Help me to celebrate Jesus, my Savior, my Lord, Immanuel. Open my mind, heart and eyes to the beauty of your love. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.