Read Matthew 2:13-23
In all likelihood, you have received at least one of those Christmas cards this year. The sender enclosed a beautiful picture of their smiling family. It isn’t that they were at all trying to deceive you, but it is easy for you to conclude that their lives are easier and more trouble-free than yours. You may almost wish yourself into the picture, because you assume that their life is better than yours. The truth is, your life has more than its share of challenges and stressors, and you sometimes think that you are unique.
We may do the same thing with our mental picture of the first Christmas. The nativity in our minds often includes angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, while everyone gathered has stepped temporarily out of their perfect worlds into the perfect Christmas card. Have we forgotten that:
- The shepherds had been scared to death moments before
- The magi had traveled a long distance and perhaps, in frustration, had to stop and ask for directions
- The delivery room doubled as an animal shelter
- The receiving blanket was comprised of strips of cloths
- The bassinet was a feeding trough
- Mary had just traveled more than 60 miles as a very pregnant person
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there came a call in the middle of the night. (Those are seldom good, are they?) They had to flee immediately. Their baby’s life was at risk. Undoubtedly, they were confused and anxious as they set out in the dark. With hundreds of miles ahead of them and countless questions confusing them, they experienced the ultimate stressor…concern for their son’s welfare.
The point of these lines is this: The perfect, stress free Christmas exists only in our imaginations as we project it into the lives of others who have their own life realities. Still, it is possible for the presence of the Christ of Christmas to offer us a peace in the midst of the stresses. In fact, He made this promise on the night prior to His crucifixion:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (Jn. 14:27)