This Christmas don’t miss what matters most.
By Pastor Rod Kilsdonk
It’s that time of year when we prepare our homes with decorations, lights, and Christmas trees, but do we truly prepare our hearts? We don’t want to miss what really matters this Christmas.
I don’t know if you’ve ever missed something that really mattered, like your anniversary or a birthday. Maybe you missed a ballgame. Maybe you missed a wedding – hopefully not your own, but you missed somebody’s wedding. You missed an opportunity, an appointment, an announcement, a deadline. There are all kinds of reasons we miss things, maybe because we’re running late, or maybe it slipped your mind, or maybe you just got distracted with everything else on your plate.
I heard of a story of a pastor– this is before cell phones–that missed a wedding that he was officiating. You miss something that really matters because you’re just distracted with something else. It happens to all of us.
In Luke 2 it says “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.”
Can you imagine how incredibly chaotic things would’ve been in a small town like Bethlehem? Normally there are less than a thousand residents in this town, and now things become extremely busy, as people make the journey back to the city of their birth.
Imagine what it would be like today if the government issued a similar decree that required each of us to go to our own hometowns, the towns we were born in, and to register there for a census. There would be people criss-crossing the nation.
If Bethlehem were your hometown, what would happen to your house? Most likely your house would get overrun with family members and friends who used to live here and then moved away, but now they’re coming back. You’d have to try to figure out sleeping arrangements and food for everyone to eat.
Some of this probably should sound familiar to this time of the year. It was very busy in Bethlehem the night before Jesus was born. It was so busy that Luke made the point that there were no guest rooms available for Mary and Joseph. There was no place for them to sleep, no place for them to stay.
Maybe they were a little bit slow in arriving because of Mary’s pregnancy, but they did get there and there’s no place for them. It seems that they were put in some area that was typically occupied by livestock, because we’re told that Jesus, the promised Messiah, was placed in a feeding trough–a manger. You talk about missing something that really matters.
And so, the people of Bethlehem were busy, right? They had a lot going on. They were preoccupied being reunited with family and friends. They were scrambling around, taking care of details that needed to be taken care of, meanwhile, the Son of God is born right there in their midst.
We get so busy with so many things this time of year. We look at the list, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to take off of it. We end up missing out on the whole meaning of it.
It’s not that the things that keep us busy are bad or unspiritual, or that your checklist isn’t important. It’s just that they can distract us from what really matters. When you find that you are too busy to focus on spiritual things, then you are too busy. Make some thoughtful adjustments. Make time, make room…don’t miss out on what and who truly matter.
Some of you may wish this Christmas was a little busier for you and that you had family or friends in town to celebrate with. Things are quiet around your house, and it’s not really what you want. You don’t really want a silent night. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if maybe you’d be open to it, you could experience the meaning of Christmas in a deeper way than a lot of the people living in Bethlehem that first Christmas night.
What if in the unwelcome quiet of your life, God might want to come to you and reveal Himself to you in a deeper way than He might be able to for those of us who are so busy and distracted?
I know for many of us, we are living in the middle of Bethlehem right now, today. Things are busy. There’s a lot happening. Family and friends are coming and going. Lots of details need to be taken care of .
It’s difficult to build in some time to just stop and remember what really matters. I just want to give you a few ways that you can prepare your heart for Christmas:
1) I’d like to ask you to plan on worshipping on Christmas Eve.
2) The second thing I would ask you to do, as Christmas approaches, is to invite someone else to come with you to a Christmas Eve Service. Christmas Eve is a great time to invite friends and family members to celebrate the arrival of Jesus.
3) Finally, I would encourage you to find a few moments alone in the quiet to stop and consider what God has done for you. Just walk outside, shut the door, look up into the night sky. Find the brightest star in the sky. Be quiet. Look. Listen. And as you’re doing that, here’s what I want you to whisper to yourself. Whisper, “God loves me so much.” Take a deep breath and say that to yourself, “God loves me so much that He would give His only Son for me.”
This Christmas don’t miss what matters most.