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Category: Christmas

Good News When You Are Not Ready for Christmas

Posted on 12/23/16 by Dale Wilsher No Comments

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
Time is running out.

So the big question is:

Have you completed everything on your Christmas to-do list? 

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Most years for me, the answer is “almost” and then I run around like crazy trying to tie up all the loose ends to make sure the Christmas spirit is palpable at my house. Some years I make it but then I am completely exhausted. Other years, like the last few, I don’t quite get everything done and end up feeling, shall we say, incomplete.

And I worry that I’m letting my children down by not doing enough to celebrate the season. I worry that I’m letting God down by not glorifying Him enough. I even feel like I’m letting the sweet baby Jesus down because there is always more I could do to herald His coming.

Do you ever feel like that? Like you’ve not done enough at Christmas time?

Keep reading for the Good News:

Good News When You’re not Ready for Christmas

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Jesus in Disguise

Posted on 12/19/16 by Dale Wilsher 1 Comment

There is a man at my church, a very nice man, who doesn’t recognize me half the time. It’s become a bit comical because I know him pretty well. I know his lovely wife. I know his kids too. And whenever I don’t wear makeup to church, he walks right past me as if I’m in disguise. I’ll say “Hi!” and he’ll look at me like I’m a stranger until I remind him of my first name.

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There are two reasons for this, I think:

  1. He doesn’t recognize me because I don’t fit his expectations. When people get older, bigger, smaller or made over or under, in my case, they no longer match the mental picture we have of them.
  2. He might have Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. If that’s really a thing. But since it’s on the internet, it must be real, right?

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Face blindness reminds me of Simeon, an important player in the Christmas story, but for the opposite reason. You see, Simeon recognized Jesus when others did not.

 

The Jews back then were unhappy. They hadn’t heard from God for 400 years. They felt alone and abandoned, tyrannized under Roman oppression. They couldn’t wait for the Big Bad Messiah to ride in, kicking butt and taking names (Roman ones), and rescue them from their dire circumstances. In their minds the Messiah would be full grown, not to mention a great military leader who would restore Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, and rule over the world in strength and power.

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  • The Jews expected a big Messiah therefore they missed God in the form of a little baby.
  • The Jews expected a strong Messiah therefore they missed the fragile way He entered the world.
  • The Jews expected a visible Messiah so they missed God’s quiet entrance through an unknown woman.

 

But Simeon was given eyes to see God and therefore recognized Jesus.

In the temple that day when “Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,” (Luke 2:22) Simeon recognized Jesus as the Lord’s Christ, took him in his arms (we hope with permission from the parents) and praised God saying,

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“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

    you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

 and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

 

This year I want to be like Simeon and not the Jews.

I want to see Jesus in His Season.

So I will focus on three things that Simeon saw:  salvation, light, and glory.

 

I want to remember that Advent is about salvation, not vacation or even celebration. While I enjoy the parties and the time off with my kiddos, I will be blinded to Jesus if I don’t make salvation the focus. I’m praying for the helmet of salvation to guard our thoughts and minds and for the offer of salvation to be accepted by those who haven’t yet done so.

 

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

 

I want every light that twinkles on my neighbor’s houses (since I couldn’t get around to it this year) to remind me of the light that Jesus offers to us all. I want to see the light that leads us me out of the darkness of my sin, weaknesses and wounds and pray for all those around me to see Him too.

 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus 8:12

 

Finally I want to make sure my mental picture of Jesus matches with the glory of who He really is. I want to make sure I don’t make Him too small, too nice, or too much like me, but instead I want to recognize Jesus in all His forms (baby, savior, and king) and see His glory all around me.

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

How could you shift your focus to recognize Jesus this time of year?

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Bringing the Christmas Story Alive

Posted on 11/30/16 by Dale Wilsher No Comments

untitled-2-3This is our nativity scene this year. I know. It looks a bit bleak, doesn’t it?

No, my toddlers didn’t eat baby Jesus or break the head off the magi, although that’s not out of the realm of possibilities. We did this on purpose. And you can too…to bring the Christmas story alive for your whole family.

Read more to find out how:

Bringing the Christmas Story Alive

Christmas Without a Homecoming

Posted on 12/21/15 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment

Do you remember that 1980’s Folgers commercial in which Peter, the college student or at least that’s always been my assumption, comes home on Christmas morning to surprise his whole family? Snow is gently falling as the VW bug drops the favored son at his front door, looking super responsible in his scarf and letter jacket and carrying an armful of beautifully wrapped gifts. Peter walks in, sets the gifts down, turns on the Christmas tree lights AND makes everyone Folgers coffee hoping the aroma will gently rouse them from sleep, which of course it does in the most beautiful of ways. As the family rounds the corner of the stairs rubbing their eyes and donning their robes they realize their son is back (from where we have no idea) and they run to him and hug him and announce with delight, “You’re home, you’re home.”


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Just in case you weren’t born in 1980 or somehow missed this slice of Americana, here’s the clip: https://youtu.be/I4kNl7cQdcU

 

That commercial is a classic not because we love Folgers coffee, but because we all love a homecoming. I sure do. That’s why I usually cried every time I saw Peter return to his family. And those holiday Hallmark commercials had the same effect too.

 

And we really love that sense of homecoming at Christmas. We love to return home—to that safe place where we were loved, with those that we care for, and where someone else cooks for you. Or we love when our loved ones, like Peter, return to us. It just feels right. It makes the holiday feel complete. Christmas seems more like its supposed to be when we go home or our loved ones come home to us.

Whoville is a wonderful place because everyone is together. Everyone is home.

 

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It’s a wonderful life for Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, because everyone shows up at his home to remind him of the affect his life has had on him.

 

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And it’s true. God made us to live in community with each other, enjoying the companionship and love of others,

 

BUT…

 

What if you can’t go home this year?

Or you are going to a place that doesn’t feel like home at all?

 

What if no one is coming home?

Or there is no home to go to?

 

What if you lost someone this year and they won’t be coming home?

Or life hasn’t worked out like you planned and togetherness is not an option?

 

What if you don’t have your own community of Whos or a town full of grateful bank customers assembled in your living room?

 

What if your Christmas has no homecoming?

 

Then you will have a Christmas just like our Savior. The true story of Christmas is built around leaving home not coming home. Jesus left the safety and warmth of his home, cozied up with His Father, the Holy Spirit and myriad of angels, to come to Earth, a cold and lonely place in contrast. He left the glory of His home to come to the poverty of ours. He left a glorious throne to be born into a dirty barn. Believe me, it was no Norman Rockwell painting.

 

Philippians 2:7-8

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 

Christmas was a mission trip. Jesus left his family and his home and woke up on Christmas morning in a strange and foreign place so that in time we could all come home.

 

Christmas is about leaving home.

 

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Even Anakin Skywalker had to leave home. (I just had to add that because we’ve got our Star Wars tickets for Christmas day. So excited.)

 

If God has called you to leave the comfort of your home this year, He may have you on a mission trip too. Wherever you find yourself, you can share in word or deed the good news of the eternal homecoming this is available to us all through Jesus Christ. Or if God has taken something or someone from your home this year, He may be calling you to a more authentic Christmas, one similar to the very first and closely aligned with His heart. If you find yourself alone or with less Whos in Whoville than you had hoped, He might be calling you to a quieter Christmas in deep communion with Immanuel, the God who came to be with us, knowing that one day we will be with home with Him forever.

 

How could you make your Christmas more about leaving home than coming home?

 

real faith speaking

 

REPOST: Christmas with Room?

Posted on 12/16/15 by DaleWilsher No Comments

imagesAs a tea drinker I have always been secretly jealous of you coffee drinkers. When I go to Starbucks it’s just a tea bag and hot water. Nothing special. But you coffee drinkers get to order exciting things with extra shots and multiple pumps, with caramel drizzles, extra whip, and all upside down. My earl gray tea always seems pitiful by comparison.

Every so often I was privileged to enter into this world of coffee cool when I ordered my wusband’s favorite drink, a quad grande Americano. The first time I stepped up to the counter it was obvious that I was a novice because the barista asked me one of those Starbucks questions and since I didn’t have my coffee translator with me, I had no idea what she was talking about.

She asked “Do you want it WITH ROOM?”

What? What room? Whose Room? What the heck?

Starbucks can be intimidating when you are just a tea drinker. I was quickly educated on the concept of ROOM. She wanted to know if I wanted less coffee in the cup to make room for cream. And the answer was yes. I wanted my order WITH ROOM.

It’s also how I want my Christmas. I want my Christmas WITH ROOM for Christ.

But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I get shopping, cooking, planning, entertaining, cleaning all around the holidays and find that my cup is full of activity and I have NO ROOM left for God. I spend all month preparing for the greatest birthday party of the year and have NO ROOM left for the birthday boy. Sad.

One of the saddest parts of the Christmas story is when Mary and Joseph finally reached Bethlehem and they asked the innkeeper FOR a ROOM, but there was NO ROOM for them in the inn. NO ROOM for Jesus. I bet that guy is kicking himself now. I know that I am. Because I want this season to have plenty of ROOM for God. I want to do better than the innkeeper. I want to follow the advice found in the Christmas classic, Joy to the World: and “Let every heart prepare him room.” I want there to be ROOM in my heart for Jesus this Christmas.

I believe this is an intentional decision that I must make everyday. Just as Starbucks will fill my cup to the brim unless I ask for ROOM, my natural bent is to do the same.

And so I will MAKE ROOM for God by not scheduling every hour of this week. I will leave ROOM in my day for time with Him or for Him to add something unexpected, like painting my daughters’ fingernails. I find that it’s easier to experience the presence of God when I am doing something sweet with one of my children. It seems that one of the main ways that I can MAKE ROOM for God is to MAKE ROOM for His people. I will leave ROOM to go to bed early so I can wake with energy to enjoy morning prayer with God. I will leave some ROOM in the things that I take for granted, like holiday music wherever I go, and start singing the Christmas carols on the radio as serenades to God.

And I will leave some ROOM in my wallet so that I can give to the Salvation Army when I go to Walmart, and increase my giving at church, and even buy the person behind me in the drive-thru line at Starbucks their Grande coffee in a venti cup with 2 pumps hazelnut, 2 pumps vanilla, 2 pumps caramel, 2 equals and 4 sweet and lows filled to the top with cream, with extra cream on the side, double cupped with no sleeve, a stir stick, and stopper put in the top.

What will you do this week to MAKE ROOM for Jesus?

real faith speaking

An Unfinished Christmas

Posted on 12/19/14 by DaleWilsher 2 Comments

UnknownNo, this is not a picture of me, because I am not this young and fresh AND because my presents don’t usually match my outfit BUT mostly because I haven’t even finished shopping yet.

 

How about you? Is your Christmas shopping done?

 

I was feeling okay about my Christmas To Do list two weeks ago because I had completed the out-of-town gifts and sent them on their way, but now I have less than six days left and I’m starting to feel the pressure of the rest of the list.

 

I really don’t have that much to finish because my “doer” temperament drives me to get stuff done, but the truth is that I just don’t like that feeling of being incomplete. I don’t like being half-done or in-process, so I push hard to finish so I can rest.

 

That’s why I like the fifty-yard dash, or at least I did when I was eight years old. I’d run really hard for ten seconds and then I’d fall on the ground desperately trying to catch my breath. All done.

 

But there isn’t much in life that resembles a sprint anymore. Parenting is not a sprint. Marriage (when I had one) was not a sprint. Building a career is not a sprint. Life in general is much more like a marathon so I am learning to rest and find contentment along the way.

 

I can tell that I am making progress because our Christmas tree has no ornament on top—it broke last year—and I am content with an incomplete tree.IMG_3487_2

 

Our Jesse tree, the little tree set aside for the 25 advent ornaments of Christ’s genealogy, that we have enjoyed for years and years, is bare because I haven’t gotten to it yet. But I am okay with that too.IMG_3488

And our Christmas cards are sitting there on the dining room table, waiting for me to write a note and send them out, but I’ll get to it after I get my shopping done. In the past I mailed the cards out the day after Thanksgiving, but I’m at ease with this new schedule.IMG_3490

 

And you know why?

 

Because Christmas is already complete.

 

Jesus already came into this world as a baby. The shepherds previously witnessed the angels and beheld our infant king. And over two thousand years ago the wise men trekked in from the east and presented our Savior with gifts to signify his roles as king, priest and ultimate sacrifice.

 

All done.

 

Christmas is complete.

 

Nothing else is really needed and that thought helps me live a little more unhurriedly with my own sense of incompletion. I can learn to live with my unfinished nature because “it is finished” and Jesus did it.  As long as I walk this earth, I will be in process. God is forming me, changing me, and making me into the woman He wants me to be.   If I don’t allow space for incompletion, there is no room for God to complete me which is what I want more than anything else under my Christmas tree.

 

I’m planning to hit the mall on Saturday to finish up my Christmas shopping, but if I don’t find everything I think I need, I know that God has already provided everything that I really need: a Savior born in a manger who through His death has given me life.

 

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

 

How are you handling the unfinished parts of your Christmas season?

 

 

Have Yourself a Very Introverted Christmas

Posted on 12/15/14 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment

UnknownChristmas seems like an over-the-top extroverted event, doesn’t it? Holiday parties abound. Malls are teeming with people talking, shopping and getting stuff done. And Santa, the poster child for a holly jolly celebration, exhibits unlimited energy as he travels the globe in just a single night.  Extroversion at its finest.

 

As I anticipated wrapping up this personality series with the weaknesses of the Planner, I got depressed. Writing about the negatives of a negative temperament can depress even an optimistic Director like me.

 

The Planner, a highly sensitive individual, is the most moody and prone to depression. Think Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, who wrote the book of Lamentations. Sad, right? When living out of their weaknesses, the Planner can turn negative, pessimistic and socially insecure. So who wants to marinate in that? Not me. In fact, as I have been reading more about living an abundant life, fulfillment is more about building your strengths than fixing your weaknesses. (If you are interested in the topic, read GO, Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham.)

 

So instead of sending us all to depths of despair, I thought I’d focus this blog on Christmas, a much more cheerful topic, but with a nod to the Planner and also the Spectator, the two introverted temperaments. Because even though the world displays Christmas as a big, bright, blinking holiday, I think the advent season is really a quiet, soft, and slow holiday that celebrates the beauty of introversion.

 

My all-time favorite Christmas song is Winter Snow by Audrey Assad. I first heard it on Chris Tomlin’s Glory in the Highest Christmas album.Unknown-1

(Can I still use the word album? Is that too 1970s? At least I didn’t call it an 8-track. If you don’t know what that is, ask your mom, she’s probably as old as me.)

 

If you can, take three minutes and listen to it here.   You won’t regret it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpHiAmL8-b0

 

God could have made His grand entrance into the world like an extreme extrovert—as the center of attention with the strength of a tidal wave or the power of forest fire, she says

 

But…

 

He came like a winter snow

quiet, soft, and slow

falling from the sky

in the night

to the earth below

 

That humbles me.

 

Our God, creator of the entire universe, omniscient and omnipotent, came to us as a fragile baby in a remote town to poor and unknown parents.

 

The Savior of our world and our souls came in the most introverted way.

 

His arrival was “still, small and hidden.”

 

The emotional needs of a Planner are sensitivity, space and silence, the same disciplines that we all need to cultivate in order to enjoy the introverted style of Christmas. If you are an extrovert, this will be harder for you, but still necessary and worthwhile in order to appreciate the depth of the season.

 

To have a Very Introverted Christmas follow these three guidelines:

 

  1. Be Silent. Everyday, or every other day, set aside five minutes (set an alarm on your phone) to be silent. Just five minutes. Don’t play music. Don’t pray. Don’t read your Bible. (Before you think about emailing me about these recommendations, I’m not suggesting you eliminate prayer or study altogether, just for these five minutes.) Meditate on the quiet, hidden nature of the first Christmas.

 

  1. Create Space. Dedicate a place in your home where you can be alone such as a special chair, your bed, or even your closet. If you create a space, a sanctuary, where you can meet with God, you are more likely to make it happen, especially in the swirl of Christmas.

 

  1. Get Sensitive. Read the Christmas story found in Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 2:1-20 several times in the next few weeks and make it the focus of your quiet times. Ask God to give you an awareness of the humble nature of Jesus’ birth.  Let Him take you deeper into the meaning of Immanuel, God with us.

 

 

If you like Christmas music, and want to enjoy Christmas like an introvert, download Winter Snow and listen to it all season long–in your car, in the kitchen, and in your room.

And have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Epiphany! The Underdog of the Holiday Season

Posted on 01/06/14 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment

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As much as I love the season of Advent and celebrating the birth of Jesus, in the days following Christmas I am so overwhelmed with stuff and mess and clutter that I cannot wait to “put Christmas away.” When my recycling bin is full I know that while it’s been a wonderful month, it’s time to clean up and move on or this mama will have a breakdown. Anyone? And so I put up the garlands, the fake tree, the holiday towels, that is everything BUT the nativity scene. The nativity scene stays out because the story of Christmas is not over yet. Those poor magi from the east are still in my kitchen trying to make their way to the den to see the baby Jesus.

And today is their day because it’s Epiphany, January 6! Today is the day we celebrate that the wise men from the East finally made it to the baby Jesus. Phew, that was a long journey. The story is found in Matthew 2:1-12. It’s interesting to note that the magi didn’t find Jesus in the stable, but in a house in Bethlehem. Some scholars believe that it may have taken them two years to arrive, not 10 minutes after the birth.

The word epiphany means a major realization in life. The urban dictionary’s example is Daniel had an Epiphany that McDonalds is bad for you. I think that says it all. Epiphany as a Christian celebration is the major realization or the revelation of Jesus to us gentiles. The magi represent those of us from the other side of the tracks who aren’t Jewish or well-behaved church goers. We celebrate the visit of the wise men because Jesus is revealed for ALL of us.

And that means more to me this year because sometimes we fail and life doesn’t look as beautiful as we had hoped. This past year I have felt more broken than usual and have struggled a bit to find my place among God’s people. But Jesus didn’t come just for those who were prepared for him, who had been taught about him, who were upright in all their ways. The wise men prove that. He came for the rest of us too.

In some traditions Epiphany is celebrated as a combination of three events: the visit of the magi, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. All three of these events reveal who Jesus is, God with us. The gifts of the magi were significant too in that they revealed who Jesus was and what He came to do. The gold represented the kingship of Jesus, the gift of frankincense represented the divinity of Jesus, and the gift of myrrh represented the death and resurrection of Jesus.

If you haven’t put Christmas away yet, you are in luck. Put that nativity scene in the middle of the kitchen table with the wise men front and center. Read Matthew 2:1-12 to your family and tell them the wise men got their own day, Epiphany. Talk about the God-man that our Christmas baby Jesus grew to become and his miracles including his Easter resurrection. Have an Epiphany dessert after dinner tonight. Pull out your bundt tin from your wedding registry and bake a king’s cake to celebrate the revelation of our king to the three kings.

And tell your family that on their worst days, when they have really blown it and feel like God is probably disappointed with them, that Epiphany is for them. Jesus came for us-the knuckleheads, the sinners, the brokenhearted. Just like the wise men and the ever popular little drummer boy we can give our gifts to him, the gift of our “broken and contrite heart” (psalm 51:17), and in return He will give us underdogs so much more.

Christmas With Room?

Posted on 12/23/13 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment

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As a tea drinker I have always been secretly jealous of you coffee drinkers. When I go to Starbucks it’s just a tea bag and hot water. Nothing special. But you coffee drinkers get to order exciting things with extra shots and multiple pumps, with caramel drizzles, extra whip, and all upside down. My earl gray tea always seems pitiful by comparison.

Every so often I was privileged to enter into this world of coffee cool when I ordered my wusband’s favorite drink, a quad grande Americano. The first time I stepped up to the counter it was obvious that I was a novice because the barista asked me one of those Starbucks questions and since I didn’t have my coffee translator with me, I had no idea what she was talking about. She asked “Do you want it WITH ROOM?” What? What room? Whose Room? What the heck? Starbucks can be intimidating when you are just a tea drinker. I was quickly educated on the concept of ROOM. She wanted to know if I wanted less coffee in the cup to make room for cream. And the answer was yes. I wanted my order WITH ROOM.

It’s also how I want my Christmas. I want my Christmas WITH ROOM for Christ. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I get shopping, cooking, planning, entertaining, cleaning all around the holidays and find that my cup is full of activity and I have NO ROOM left for God. I spend all month preparing for the greatest birthday party of the year and have NO ROOM left for the birthday boy. Sad.

One of the saddest parts of the Christmas story is when Mary and Joseph finally reached Bethlehem and they asked the innkeeper FOR a ROOM, but there was NO ROOM for them in the inn. NO ROOM for Jesus. I bet that guy is kicking himself now. I know that I am. Because I want this season to have plenty of ROOM for God. I want to do better than the innkeeper. I want to follow the advice found in the Christmas classic, Joy to the World: and “Let every heart prepare him room.” I want there to be ROOM in my heart for Jesus this Christmas.

I believe this is an intentional decision that I must make everyday. Just as Starbucks will fill my cup to the brim unless I ask for ROOM, my natural bent is to do the same.

And so I will MAKE ROOM for God by not scheduling every hour of this week. I will leave ROOM in my day for time with Him or for Him to add something unexpected, like painting my daughters’ fingernails. I find that it’s easier to experience the presence of God when I am doing something sweet with one of my children. It seems that one of the main ways that I can MAKE ROOM for God is to MAKE ROOM for His people. I will leave ROOM to go to bed early so I can wake with energy to enjoy morning prayer with God. I will leave some ROOM in the things that I take for granted, like holiday music wherever I go, and start singing the Christmas carols on the radio as serenades to God.

And I will leave some ROOM in my wallet so that I can give to the Salvation Army when I go to Walmart, and increase my giving at church, and even buy the person behind me in the drive-thru line at Starbucks their Grande coffee in a venti cup with 2 pumps hazelnut, 2 pumps vanilla, 2 pumps caramel, 2 equals and 4 sweet and lows filled to the top with cream, with extra cream on the side, double cupped with no sleeve, a stir stick, and stopper put in the top.

What will you do this week to MAKE ROOM for Jesus?

You’re Not Invited

Posted on 12/12/13 by DaleWilsher 3 Comments

not invited

This year I dropped off the guest list for an annual Christmas party held in my neighborhood. My crime: I got divorced. The good news is that it seems that I am not the first to endure this consequence. The bad news is that it hurts. Being uninvited means that the host does not want to be with me or subject her guests to me. Ouch. Or maybe they fear that my condition is contagious. Or maybe they are worried that I will hit on all the married men at the party. So I am not contagious, but I am dangerous. Yikes, that is just embarrassing. Or maybe I don’t look like a good Christian anymore. Ouch, Ouch.

Is there such a thing as a good Christian? I don’t think so. This notion of the “good Christian” keeps us all on the treadmill of spiritual performance trying to prove to God and others that we are worthy of their attention and their admiration. And yet Jesus said himself in Luke 18:19 “No one is good—except God alone.” Any good works we do were prepared by God in advance. (Ephesians 2:10) Every good gift we give or receive comes from our Father in Heaven. (James 1:17) We can’t claim credit for any of these good things.

We try really hard to be good because deep down we all think that our failures and imperfections make us unlovable, but they don’t. They just make us human. Tim Keller said “You are more sinful than you could ever dare imagine and you are more loved and accepted than you could ever dare hope-at the same time.” More good news and bad news.

I am so thankful that I don’t have to prove anything to God to get Him to love me or be with me. He is Immanuel, God with me. God with me in my divorce. God with me in my messy life. God with me no matter what I do or is done to me. God doesn’t see me as contagious or dangerous nor does He see me as a good Christian. He doesn’t expect that from me. He provides the goodness and I receive it. It’s called grace.

So keep your eyes open this Christmas for those people who can accept your brokenness and still be with you. Those are people who represent God well, who will be your human Immanuel, God with us. And keep your heart open to those who need your love and acceptance in their beautiful mess. Be their Immanuel and invite them in. And may God be with us always.