For years, I’ve felt the restlessness of the Christmas season. Celebrating the birth of my Savior should be a time of celebration, rejoicing, and thanksgiving. Yet for so many years, this time of the year left me feeling empty and longing for more. The more I tried to pay attention, the greater the disappointment.
Because every Christmas, even with my desire to make Jesus the center, I’ve felt something missing.
That’s when I heard about the Jesse tree. Ann Voskamp shares it so beautifully in her new book, The Greatest Gift- Unveiling The Full Love Story Of Christmas. It’s a new tradition I’m sure we’ll be celebrating every December.
For years, Christmas came and I was thrown right into the middle of Mary’s prophetic encounter with the angel. Mary’s reception of the news is quite a contrast to Zechariah’s doubting heart for his own answered prayers. And immediately, I’m checking my own heart. Am I like Mary or am I like Zechariah?
Soon enough we meet Joseph. And poor Joseph. What an ordeal he faced. Yet no one talks about the amazing character it took for him to stand beside Mary.
And there’s a donkey, a long ride down to Bethlehem, a star, a manger, wise men, and shepherds. And then…wait for it…
Jesus arrives! Angels sing. Joy to the world. Let’s celebrate. Party’s over. Lights go out. Heart still aching. Heart still longing.
And I’m over simplifying it. But I think you get the point.
Ann Voskamp challenged me to look at the celebration of the Baby in the manger in a different way. She takes us through a journey. One that starts “in the beginning”.
Day 3 of the advent devotional came, and oh, how much sense this is all making. The story of the Savior of the world commencing, not with the prophetic encounter of a virgin and an angel, but rather all the way in the beginning- at Creation. God forming us “by Love…for love”. Christ always coming for us.
Adam and Eve, they sin. It’s the same sin that drives our hearts far from God. What He generously provides is never enough for us. We’d rather chase after things that barely satiate our hunger. “We hunger for something other“. We chase after moments of fleeting pleasure.
And we’re days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus and already I understand how much I need the Savior!
I need the Savior today. I’ll need Him again tomorrow. I need Him, always… until the day He returns again for me. Until the day when my hunger is fully satisfied.
The days lay before me, and already I await with anticipation. Out of the disappointments of my life, out of the failures, the setbacks, the rejection, the pain… out of the stump of my life, I too, hope for the Branch which will bear fruit.
I’m celebrating Jesus, the God-child. Jesus, Savior. Jesus, the resurrected Christ. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus, the banner of my salvation.
How about you? This year, what will you be celebrating?