This week our guest Gmail writer is Ben Pierce, PCC’s Small Groups Pastor and, along with Janet Miclean, teaching pastor at our gatherings this upcoming Sunday, December 10.
Do you ever feel like you’re swimming upstream to have a Christ-centered Christmas amidst all the hoopla? Estimates are that somewhere north of 3 trillion dollars will be spent on all the commercial aspects of Christmas this year. Untold numbers of people will travel or receive guests. Christmas parties, Christmas excitement, Christmas depression, retail therapy: it’s all in play this time of year. There are parts of the hoopla I love — the lights, the music, great food, and the generosity that’s more common this time of year, even among the irreligious. There are parts of the hoopla I avoid like the plague — circling for parking at the mall comes to mind! Then there is my deeper and more central self that values the newborn King, Emmanuel, above all else. That part of me resents how the hoopla can get in the way of simply being grateful for Him and experiencing His love and nearness for all I’m worth. It feels at times like I have my feet in two different canoes, and I’m doing the splits between them.
Sound familiar? When you look at the Christmas story a bit more closely, you’ll see that the central characters had to fight their way upstream to experience God’s Christmas miracle as well. There was the census mandated by Rome at the worst possible time for the growing Holy Family. There was a four-day, 90-mile journey that Mary and Joseph had to make when she was almost 9 months pregnant. (The fact that she rode a donkey to make it easier is from Hallmark cards – not the Bible!) And when they got to Bethlehem, the hoopla of the census meant that the only place left for the son of God to be born was in the place usually reserved for animals to have their young.
And yet … AND YET … Mary and Joseph and a few simple shepherds persevered through all of that and experienced the Christmas miracle in that stable at such a deep level that they would never be the same afterwards. This Sunday’s message is aimed at helping us do the same. This Sunday will help us find our way through the hoopla to the humble manger and to the baby in whom the hopes and fears of all the years are met.
A Christ-centered Christmas amidst all the hoopla isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible. This Sunday’s gathering will help us journey together to that end.
Much love in Him,