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A few years ago in the midst of the Christmas season, I heard a crash in my house and set out to find the source of the cracking. I figured another ornament had fallen victim to a little boy’s game, but I didn’t expect to see the entire tree on the floor.
It turns out a game of cat and mouse – where the kids were the cat and the cat was the mouse – left the once gleaming tree in shambles on the ground.
And when the Christmas tree tumbled it took my heart with it.
The truth was that year had been a struggle. Uncertainty stormed my soul. I felt tired and lonely.
As we hung the ornaments that year, I hung my heart with them, because the tree represented something stable and certain. It was a story of us.
It told of the newlyweds tucked in for a long Cleveland winter and a Santa who clearly likes to play football and a house full of little elves who God sent to add wonder and thrills to each day. Every year for a decade, no matter where we found ourselves, we lifted the same star atop this story. This particular year, with the help of her strong Daddy, my daughter had done the honors.
But now it all lie in a shattered pile on the floor.
The water drained out. Ornaments broken. Pine needles scattered. The star separated and alone.
When I tried to move the tree more ornaments fell. More memories cracked. And I backed off, because I didn’t know if I could take one more of something that’s suppose to be beautiful turning into something sharp and painful.
The kids’ questions echoed behind me, “Is Christmas ruined? Will we still have a Merry Christmas?”
With a shaky voice and heart to match it I stood before them with this,
“No! Christmas is not ruined. And Yes! We will have a Merry Christmas. No matter what happens to this tree. Whether we pick it up or throw it away. Whether it shines again or there’s no tree at all, Christmas will not change.”
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23 (ESV)
We sat circled by brokeness and disappointment. But my still-weary heart now hung on truth.
God is the certainty. God brings the peace. And God is with us.
The scene begged for a do-over … So the fallen tree became a fresh start.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLT)
Something tells me I’m not the only one who’s felt lonely or weary or heartbroken, especially this time of year. Your mess is likely nothing like mine. But, maybe you need a fresh start, too.
Christmas will never change, because Jesus never changes.
Brokenness will not break it. Loneliness won’t lessen it. Uncertainty can’t unravel it.
Will there be messes? Yes. Will we feel alone? Yes. But will we be alone? No.
Because Christmas proclaims Immanuel, God with Us. And on that we hang our hearts.
Jesus is something stable. He is something certain. He is our Prince of Peace.
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