And it’s not about brightly wrapped packages nestled under a beautiful tree, branches brimming with pine cones and ornaments, with twinkling lights and strings of popcorn and cranberries.
It’s not about that last minute frantic trip to the mall, fighting crowds and snarling traffic, to search for the perfect gift for the family member who has everything. It’s not about the promise of presents for kids who behave, delivered on a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, by a rotund, jolly old man with a snow white beard and draped in a bright red suit.
It’s not even about beloved family gathered around a long table packed with hams and turkeys and enough pies that an entire army could eat for a week.
It’s not all about making Merry.
Christmas…is about a baby born in a musty stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes. It’s about heaven’s best, God-man, coming down to mingle among sin, smelly animals and poop. To show each of us what love really looks like.
Christmas is about hope. It’s about Jesus. It’s about a perfect love that rights all wrongs, about a love that knows no bounds, a love that gives and never ends.
Christmas…because it’s not all about making Merry.
When it comes to time, I’m a firm believer that most people fall into two different categories:
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And he doesn’t just arrive late, he also includes some type of dramatic announcement of his presence, usually a booming, “Well, well, well.” Those of us who like to keep a low profile, well, we’ve learned to adjust or duck our heads in embarrassment, just accepting his energetic personality as one of the things we love about him.
|My sweet hubby|
But, really, whether you’re early or late, does it matter? Sure you might miss a few minutes of an important meeting. You could be fired from a job you loved (but if you really loved it, wouldn’t you make an effort to be on time?). Or a date might have given up waiting at the prearranged meeting spot when you finally scurry in.
But, how about the more important things? Issues with an eternal impact?
I have GREAT news for you stragglers.
When it comes to accepting the precious gift of hope that Jesus so freely offers, it’s NEVER too late.
Nope. It’s never too late. Want to know how I know?
For one, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, two criminals surrounded him, one on each side. They both knew they deserved to die for the crimes they’d committed. One of them taunted Jesus while the other asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.
How did Jesus respond?
With love and forgiveness. With grace and mercy. With a promise that “today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)
Today! Did you catch that? Doomed to suck in his last ragged breath hanging on a cross, that lost soul received the gift of eternal life, the promise that he’d enter heaven’s gate that very day!
Still not enough evidence for you?
How about the parable of the vineyard workers? Early in the morning, a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. After he set them to work, he went out four more times, hiring workers each time. At the end of the day, the generous vineyard owner paid each worker the same salary, no matter what time they arrived. He claimed that it was his money, and his right to do as he pleased. (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)
Just like that vineyard owner, Jesus offers the same grace, the same precious gift, to the man or woman who comes to Him at the end of their life as the one who comes at an early age.
Do you hear the soft whisper? See the arms stretched wide? He’s waiting for you.