The year to forget, worst year ever, strangest year on record, and the list trying to describe 2020 goes on and on. Between pandemic, economic meltdown, ugly presidential election, and ____fill in the blank, 2020 didn’t have many high points. Everyone is ready to put 2020 behind us and for 2021 to get started. But wait a minute, in your rush for things to get back to “normal” don’t miss Christmas. I know, I know! Christmas is on December 25th! But I’m not talking about exchanging presents, putting up (and taking down) trees, or sharing a meal over Zoom or FaceTime.
No, the Christmas I’m talking about is much bigger than a day or a celebration. Sometimes in our attempt to stay on schedule, to stick to our plans…to be normal - sometimes we miss the amazing and the extraordinary. Ever since the pandemic began, we have talked about “getting back to normal”. Could it be that we are so consumed with being “normal” that we are missing what is truly important?
Two thousand years ago there was a guy named Joseph who was engaged to be married. As he was busy getting prepared for what I’m sure he thought was going to be a “normal” life, he finds out that his fiancée is pregnant. Knowing he isn’t the father, his “normal” is shattered. Deciding to break off the engagement (which would be the normal thing to do), he is visited by an angel during a dream telling him to marry her and to name the kid Jesus, which means Savior, because He will save the people from their sins. By this point, Joseph’s head had to be spinning; a normal life was out of the question.
If Joseph had been so very intent on leading a normal life, just perhaps he would’ve missed the opportunity to raise Jesus. He could have dismissed his dream to eating bad fish and an upset stomach and missed the most important event in human history - the birth of Jesus. How intent are we on leading a “normal” life? Is it possible that we are missing the extraordinary and settling for “normal”? Have we been chasing the American dream (wealth, successful kids, comfort, security, etc.), and missed the most important thing of all? Could it be that “normal” has just worn us down and we are going through the motions? Perhaps we have dismissed that dream as a case of bad fish, or a pandemic, or a sickness, or... or... or...
Sometimes it takes a major event to get our attention. Perhaps this pandemic could be such an event.
BUT don’t overlook Christmas 2020
Our normal life was already stressful, busy and trying. Throw a pandemic on top of everything else and it’s almost too much to bare. Maybe, just maybe, Christmas is the answer to everything. Don’t miss it! Look past the baby in the manger, the wise men, the shepherds, the story that we know so well. Instead ask, “Why?
Why did Jesus come?
Listen to the scriptures for just a minute, and let it soak in.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
I Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Romans 5:6-7 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”
Did you catch that? Jesus knows our hearts, our deeds, our sin, and yet He chose to die for us so that we could be forgiven and brought into a saving relationship with God. Nothing could be more important than that relationship. Not a pandemic, not a presidential election, and certainly not a normal life.
I have been guilty of neglecting that relationship due to being overwhelmed by our new “normal” because of the pandemic. I’m sure this letter has been more of a wakeup call to myself than inspiration for anyone else; nonetheless, I pray that Christmas will speak louder to you than ever - even during this pandemic.
As we head into 2021 may we give up chasing a “normal” life and instead pursue a relationship with the One who gives us life (“I am the way, the truth and the life...” John 14:6), and who wants us to thrive (“I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly...” John 10:10). Like Joseph 2000+ years ago, let’s stop searching for “normal”, and instead trust in Jesus and follow Him for a life worth living.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Greg & Elizabeth Evans