God’s Perfect Christmas Card
posted on December 21
God’s Perfect Christmas Card
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. – Luke 2:14
Today is the shortest day of 2022, which means that tonight is the longest night of our year. I have the privilege of offering a message at our Guilford West Missional Network’s Longest Night service. What a joy to participate in services that are so thoughtfully planned and attend gently to the myriad of emotions we feel at this time of year.
When it comes to Christmas, we all need the gift of a loving Word. The gift for us all is Jesus Christ, and the message of his incarnation comes in different ways thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit. As a small example, consider the Christmas cards we choose, the messages we write in them, and the ones we read with the most anticipation when they land in our mailboxes.
I’m a rather picky Christmas card shopper. And I’m a stuffer. I like to write a letter to place inside the card, and to add a personal message on the card itself. And I love Christmas stamps and stickers. (My mom was a Christmas stamp and sticker person.) Since it means so much to me to receive a card, I feel led to try to send at least a few each year. I love the true “greetings of the season” … where friends review the year in light of the coming of Jesus once again into lives and hearts. Nothing is better than arriving home during Advent, turning on a lamp and heat and sitting down to enjoy the Christmas cards that have landed in the mailbox while we were at work.
I know what I like to send, and I know what I love to receive. To deepen the conversation, since the coming days create wonderful space for us to reflect on the message we need most this season:
What would God’s Christmas card to you look like?
Let’s start with the cover. What picture would God place on a card that was prepared just for you? What image would God use to touch your heart in the deepest way? Maybe it’s a photo of someone you have loved and lost … the two of you together in the snow or in front of the hearth or tree. Or maybe it’s an image of a place you have travelled where you deeply felt the presence of God.
Since God can do anything, maybe it’s a video card, a moving picture of you doing something that is very life-giving to you. Maybe you are laughing with friends, serving alongside someone you love … or shopping for the groceries that will herald the aroma and spirit of Christmas. Maybe you are a teenager in that picture on the front of God’s card to you. Maybe you are brand new in your career or hosting a great gathering with a big smile on your face. Maybe it’s the big smile you gave to the mirror just this morning. What is on the front of God’s Christmas card to you?
Now let’s open it. What is the printed message you need to hear? Maybe it’s a life verse, a favorite poem, a word of comfort, or an assurance that all will be well. Maybe it’s a calming word. Maybe it’s an atta girl or an atta boy. Maybe it’s words you have heard before and never fully believed or heard but ceased to believe because of harm done to you. Maybe you need to hear God say it, personally, with emphasis. Maybe in nice bright cursive God says, You are loved, dear one! … or Start enjoying your life each day. Or … Remember … it’s the little things that matter most. You likely know what God would write in your Christmas card, and if you don’t … it’s time to pause and reflect on what God’s message is this Christmas for your particular, unique, and very special life. There is no one else like you. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us because you are worth it.
Lastly, how would God sign and address your card? God calls me Beverly. What does God call you? Give God a quiet moment to address you … and consider what God’s personal note to you this year might say. Maybe it says I know it’s been a hard year for you, but I love you and I am here. Or Slow down and watch me work. Maybe God’s note says … Hey, do you know how special you are in my sight?
The opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel contain a Christmas card for God’s people. So many images, beings, and emotions present themselves: shepherds, sheep, angels, glory, terror, good news (remember good news?), messy places, straw, signs, stars … a little something for everyone. Listen for what is offered in this Christmas card from God:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
What jumps out this year?
- There might be some old worn-out secular Christmas messages that this scripture can dislodge and replace.
- There might be some ancient (and humble) images that you need to see again.
- There might be a verse or two that needs to be read with a new emphasis, a spiritual aha! moment. I love when God highlights my Bible for me!
God has a special, sacred, and personal word for you this season. It’s uniquely for you and for this time. God knows the exact size of the space that you leave open, and God can get and fit anywhere God wants to get and fit. God can say whatever God wants to say, even in a season where other people seem to be speaking for God. God is quite capable of speaking for Godself. Our job is simply to be willing to receive God’s true Word … to open it with expectation like a Christmas card from our mailbox on a dark winter’s night.
God has a message for you this season. It’s really for you, just as God is really FOR you, and really FOR all people. May we embrace the message, and its messengers. And here’s a hug to the addressee, you.
Richest Christmas Blessings,
Rev. Bev(erly) Coppley