Surprised by Christmas

I woke up this morning and lo and behold it is Christmas Eve.  Not that I didn’t know it was coming, there have been ads and promos up at Wal-Mart since July 5th. But somehow I still just don’t feel ready.  It’s not that the shopping isn’t done, at least most of it is.  It’s not that we haven’t done our part to try to help out those with less material blessings than we have.  We watched the Advent Conspiracy video and decided we need to rethink how we do Christmas, and for the most part we did. 

I think part of it is some of the magic of Christmas has worn off.  Our kids are getting older and know who the real Santa is, and I miss that a bit. Part of it is the commercialization.  Part of it is me.  I want God to show up with a bang. I want to be wowed.  I want God to make things right.  I want Christmas to be something special this year.

I think I’m probably not alone in that.  It might take the form of wanting God to show up and heal a relationship that has been broken for a long time.  It might be a desire to have God fix a financial disaster .  It might be a longing for a little hope and peace that you haven’t experienced in a long time.  We all have thoughts about how God should be working in our lives over the next few days. And if we cling too tightly to our expectations and desires, we will most likely be disappointed.  God rarely does things the way we think He should, especially at Christmas.

Let’s look at the story.  First we have Mary.  I’m guessing her life expectations didn’t involve a pre-marital pregnancy, let alone this whole Incarnation thing.  Joseph seems a bit surprised as well, but after a short visit from an angel he decides to go along on the journey.   The entire nation was awaiting a Messiah that would come in the form of a King and overthrow the Romans.  And yet, God’s plans were so very different.  He chose a teenage mom, provided what appears to be a great step-dad, and led them to a dirty manger far away from their hometown.  They were willing to lay aside their plans, their expectations, and follow this God who does things a bit differently than we would.

Christmas, it turns out is not about making our wish list and mailing it to Santa. Nor is it about turning God into Santa and giving the list to Him.  Christmas is about God’s plans being bigger and better than ours.  It is about the Incarnation, about Him coming to us in a way we would never plan and can’t comprehend.  And Christmas might just be about laying aside our expectations, our desires and our “needs” and being willing to be surprised by what God is going to do.  Not just 2000 years ago, but this week.

This is where you join in on the conversation and journey.  What expectations do you have that may need to be held a little less tightly this Christmas in order to be surprised by God?




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3 responses to “Surprised by Christmas

  1. Great blog bro. I’ve really had to let go that I can’t buy nor should I buy the best presents for people. Also, that I shouldn’t find my worth in how well I think people like the presents I got them. The times I have actually let God define me instead of my thoughts and/or the enemy define me is the times I have been most surprised – not by how much people love or hate the presents I buy, but how much joy and happiness I can have through Jesus!

  2. jeffabel

    Matthew – thanks for the comment. I agree that this time of year it is especially easy to get caught up in the “I wish I could do . . . ” or “people expect . . . ” mentality. I too have struggled with letting go of that and saying God what do you expect and want me to do. It is a great place to be – just wish I was there more often.

  3. My wife and I have been thinking about boycotting Christmas! Not because of the Scrooge Factor, but because of what Christmas has turned into. While it does bring out the best in many people, it also brings out the worst in others. The anti-christian factions are getting bolder and attacking Christmas and Christians more and more. People are getting trampled to death at Wal-Mart all in the name of Christ. Christmas is MUCH more a pagan holiday than a Christian holiday, and we wonder if it is not time for the Church to abandon the current holiday and start a new observance in the spring near the time when Christ was actually born. It would strictly be a celebration of Christ’s birth, no presents for each other. It would be marked not by feasting but by fasting, prayer and seeking God. However, do Christians WANT to fast, pray and seek God? Do they want to give up their pagan holiday?