One of the most important items in my home is my magazine stand.  I am often teased by members of my family because of the significant number of magazines I receive.  I enjoy Dallas Cowboys football games and watch each play, but an occasional glance up from a magazine page works for all other sports.  My magazines are beautiful each December, filled with pictures of Christmas décor, holiday menu ideas and festive fashions.  Every year those magazines suggest new ways to improve my holiday and I enjoy thinking about them.  Occasionally, I even use a suggestion to create a new tradition in my home.  I am especially enjoying the suggestions for this year.  The trend, it seems, is toward a more simple style of décor and celebration.  I agree with that thinking!

The past couple of decades were about an “over-the-top” look for most things.  I’m excited that the trends are moving away from that.  Christmas isn’t supposed to be complicated.  The first Christmas is the perfect illustration of holiday simplicity.

A feed trough, some hay and swaddling clothes were the only necessary “decorations” for the stable Mary and Joseph found for the night.  Mary must have been so tired, and in so much pain.  The road to Bethlehem wasn’t long by today’s standards, but it would have seemed very long for a girl in her ninth month of pregnancy and for a husband whose job it was to keep her safe.  Mary would have been able to ride many of the miles on the back of a donkey, but even that help would have been a small comfort for someone in her condition.  The first Christmas is a reminder that the most important decorations in our home are those things that bring us comfort and a sense of being safe and secure.  Christmas décor is wonderful, but having a home to decorate is the greatest blessing.

Pray for those who, like Mary and Joseph that first Christmas, don’t know where they will spend the night tonight.  Pray that someone will tell them about Jesus and offer to help.  Pray that God will give you and your family that opportunity for Christmas.  The story of Christmas is a gift each of us can give and meeting a person’s basic needs often provides the opportunity to give them Jesus as well.

I bought my granddaughter a little set consisting of rubber ducks fashioned as the key figures of the Nativity.  We sat and took each little duck out of the box and I told her the story.  She is not yet a year old, but I enjoyed telling her the story of Jesus.  I will find a way to tell her that story every year, until she is able to tell it to me.  I love the stories and books of Christmas, but none are as precious as the one from the Bible.  It is a simple story, but it is the Christmas story.

Every year, about this time, it is good to step back and reconsider the holiday.  Has your Christmas season been hijacked by the calendar?  Have you lost the true story in the midst of all the fiction that surrounds the season?  This is a good time to hit the “reset button” and make a plan.  When will you worship?  When will you pray?  When will you walk outside, enjoying the lights and the presence of Christ?  

Jesus wants to spend some time with us this Christmas.  He wants us to remember why he came.  He wants us to remember what matters, and what matters forever.  I hope you are using the Advent book this year that our ministry provides. The great hymns of the faith can cause us to praise and worship Christ, and celebrate the season with God.  Sing, like no one is listening – but remember the One who always hears us when we pray.  Our praise is a gift to God and we can bring him joy today by laying that gift at his feet.  Before you sleep tonight, send God your gift of praise.

Christmas was never supposed to be complicated.  Sing Silent Night, focus on the familiar lyrics, then focus on the one who is listening.  Sing to God and thank him for Jesus.  It is a simple gift that will bless the giver as well.

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