How to Invite Jesus to His Birthday Celebration
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Every year, I search for Christmas poems, stories, and traditions that stir my soul and keep my focus on Jesus. Perhaps none has tugged on my heartstrings like the treasure I am sharing with you today. It is a letter that could have been written by Mary. Join me now and let’s peek over Joseph’s shoulder as he reads this letter from his beloved.
I had a dream Joseph. And I don’t understand it not really. But think it was about a birthday celebration for our Son. Well I think that’s what it was about. People had been preparing for about six weeks. They had decorated their house, bought new clothes, gone shopping many times, and bought elaborate gifts. But it was peculiar though because you see, the gifts weren’t for our Son. They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree. Yes! A tree, Joseph, right in their house. They decorated a tree.
The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments. And there was a figure on top of the tree that looked something like what an angel might look like. Oh, it was so beautiful. Everyone was laughing and happy and all excited about the gifts. They gave gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son. I don’t even think they knew Him. They never mentioned His name. Doesn’t it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate somebody’s birthday when they don’t even know Him. I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding.
Everything was beautiful, Joseph. Everyone was full of cheer. But it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus, not to be wanted at His own birthday celebration. I’m glad that it was only a dream. What if it would have been true?
What if it had been true? This story pierced my heart because in my home growing up, it was true. My childhood was a cauldron of violent arguments, alcohol inflamed fights, and long passages of passive aggressive silence. My parents were a mess, and their children were even messier.
Amazingly, the tensions ratcheted up a notch at Christmas. Dad’s business associates gave him liquor in ornate bottles—alcohol that fueled his volatile anger. My mom went into a stressful frenzy to have a perfectly decorated home with mounds of gifts under the tree. I dreaded December…every year.
On Christmas morning, I tore into elegantly wrapped presents. Right now, I can’t even recall what five of them were.
What I really wanted was a little bit of that “Peace on Earth” we sang about in church. I longed for Emmanuel to bring some of that “Silent Night” into my chaotic life. I longed for a mommy and daddy who loved each other. What I didn’t care about was more stuff.
Think about Mary’s words in Luke 2:19. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What do you think she treasured? Gabriel’s visit? Her cousin Elizabeth’s proclamation? The shepherds appearing in the middle of the night? The wisemen coming from a faraway place? Anna and Simeon recognizing baby Jesus as the Messiah? I think she remembered them all. And notice, not one of those things were wrapped in shiny paper wrapped box with a big bow on top.
One day I had a child of my own. I held that squirmy bundle of love in my arms and made a commitment to keep Jesus the center of our home. That decision included keeping Christmas from becoming a stress-filled retail event, and making sure it was a love-filled Christ-centered celebration.
This year, let’s make sure to invite the honored Guest to His birthday celebration. Set Him a place at the table. Read about His birth on Christmas morning. Wrap Him a gift and place it under the tree. (In our home we write what we’re giving Jesus on slips of paper, wrap it up in a little box, and place it by the nativity. It could be a commitment to pray more, love better, forgive quicker.)
Then in the years to come, we will have many memories to ponder and treasure in our heart.
Precious Jesus, forgive me for getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and forgetting why I’m doing this in the first place. Help me to rein in the retail frenzy and keep You the focus of the holiday season. I can’t wait to honor You in my home this Christmas Day.
In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are three ways that you keep Jesus the focus of the holiday season? Leave a comment and share!
Here are three of mine.
At dinnertime, we pray for the people who send us Christmas Cards.
I have a collection of nativity sets from around the world and place them in various rooms around the house.
We read Luke 2 and pray on Christmas morning before we open any gifts.