“I think we’ll have a good Christmas,” said Cindy Hill of winning half of a record $587.5 million Powerball jackpot last week.

Although I definitely understand her enthusiasm, my reaction was, How sad. Does it really require a lump payout of nearly $200 million to have a good Christmas? And what does that mean for the rest of us?

In choosing a message for Advent to share from Keri Wyatt Kent’s devotional, “Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus,” I couldn’t get beyond this line in lesson two, “Love consists, so often, in simply showing up.”

To me this is what Christmas is all about.

First, there is the God who demonstrated his love by showing up in a manger.

Then, the wise men and shepherds showed up to worship Him.

God shows up. Then we do. As a result lives are changed, blessings claimed, peace poured out, wounds healed, death destroyed. No fat check here. No presents under the tree—just the one in the feed box. And everyone who receives him is a winner.

How sad that we often miss what the season is all about—showing up for the hottest sales and deepest discounts, getting cranky over spent money and long lists and blown budgets, yet forget to show up where love is. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found love in a department store.

“The Incarnation is the ultimate example of ‘showing up,’” Kent writes. “But even now, two millennia later, we will notice when Jesus shows up. He makes good on his promise to abide with us. His constant ‘being with’ can be a source of comfort and joy.”

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.”

So proclaim the words of what is believed to be one of the oldest Christmas carols, first sung in the 15th century. How easily dismayed—or distracted—we are. Yet, how would these frenetic weeks leading up to Christmas be different if you imagined Jesus spending each day with you?

Would you rest like the merry gentlemen in this song? Would the balance in your bank account cause dismay when compared to the magnificent love of God?

“Today, as you go through your day, imagine that Jesus is with you—a strong , loving presence … ,.” writes Kent. “Imagine him alongside you, guiding you. When you awaken, lie in bed for just a minute and say, “Good Morning Jesus.”

Or, perhaps, visualize yourself at the manger. See that warm, squirming bundle in the hay. Reach out, as you would to your own child or grandchild or nephew, and welcome him. Welcome him to your home, to your heart. Make him first in your celebrations and first in your planning and first in your spending. Feel his presence and his peace. Remember these holidays are holy days. Everything else takes second place.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful,” John 14:27.

What helps you keep everything in perspective at Christmas?

All commentors will be entered in a weekly raffle each Friday through Christmas Eve for thirteen books being given away  as part of this month-long Advent blog hop! I will be writing a review of Kent’s book later this month. Posting a comment here will give you an additional chance to win!

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