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Two Kinds of Christmas

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When I was growing up, each December my family would pile in the minivan and head off to the shopping mall.  My brother and I would sit in the backseat reciting our Christmas wish lists, in hopes that we’d get to cross items off of them early.

Upon our arrival, my parents, only by the grace of God, managed to maneuver us quickly through stores and aisle ways, past giant displays of toys, without hesitation to a table in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

This table sat perched beneath a Christmas tree covered with paper angels.  And it was there that my siblings and I learned the names of the children whose wish lists we’d be shopping for, instead of our own.

Despite the initial disappointment that we’d not be crossing off items from our own lists, I fondly remember the times that we shopped together as a family, with pure joy, as we filled bags with items for children whose names we knew, but faces we might never see.

These memories were illuminated, as if a light had passed in front of them, while I listened to the message this past weekend at church.  I was reminded that it was our annual shopping excursions that taught me valuable lessons of what it means to serve others.

It also reminded me what an impact the broken stories of others made on me, even as a child; refracting the image of December 25th, and breaking it into two different kinds of celebration.

Two Kinds of Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: The Christmas of Enough

There is a celebration that begins on Black Friday and continues sometimes into January.  This kind of Christmas is the media-driven, picturesque season of freshly baked cookies in warm homes, decorated with bright and twinkling lights; the stuff that makes up Hallmark specials.

This kind of Christmas is celebrated with friends and family; with laughter and crackling fireplaces.  It comes with exquisitely wrapped gifts under an elaborately decorated tree; the epitome of the perfect Christmas, all wrapped up in a pretty red bow.

And then there is…

Away in a Manger: The Christmas of Not Enough

There is a second kind of Christmas; a season of less-than-ideal circumstances.  There’s often not enough food to go around.  There’s not enough money to keep the heat on, let alone to pay for the gifts that everyone is hoping to receive.  And there are now empty spaces that used to be filled.  Empty seats due to broken relationships or a special someone’s passing.

This kind of Christmas is often made up of broken hearts, all wrapped up in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

The irony with these two kinds of Christmases is that they happen simultaneously, sometimes within the very same neighborhood.  And surprisingly enough, they often occur in the very same home.

Just because the tree is trimmed, the table is set and the family is on their way, doesn’t mean that our hearts are filled.  Many of us, though shiny on the surface, have empty spaces within us during the holidays for one reason or another.  

Maybe it is the empty seat at the table that used to be filled.  Maybe it is because we don’t feel the “magic” of the season as we used to or are struggling in feeling the closeness of Christ.  Or maybe it is because we recognize that the Christmas of Not Enough is the reality for more people than we care to admit.

It is then that we need to remember that no matter what kind of Christmas it is that we’re celebrating, the very first Christmas was one of not enough.  Not enough room in the inn.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son; Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. – John 1:14 (MSG)

The Savior of the world, willingly humbled Himself and entered the overwhelming brokenness of humanity, and even chose to be born of “a nobody, living in a nothing town in the middle of nowhere” (Greg Laurie).

Out of a circumstance of not enough, He became more than enough for the rest of us.  No matter how dark and dismal the situation, or how impossible it might seem, He is enough.

So this Christmas, ask Christ to move into the neighborhood of all those empty and broken places, and allow Him to work in your heart to bring you to a place of understanding that He is all you need.

[divider] [row-start] [three-fourths]Bree Blum is just your average single thirty-something book loving, oil using, cardigan wearing blogger who loves Jesus.

You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.[/three-fourths] [one-fourth][/one-fourth] [row-end]

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