“Get in the car!! We’re late for the Christmas program! Why?! BECAUSE NOBODY LISTENS TO ME!”
“No!! We can’t decorate the tree like that! That’s like 20 ornaments in one spot! Come on, people!!”
“Ok! Get the house spotless! Grandma’s coming!! GET YOUR SHOES OFF THE COUCH! Get your dirty clothes out of the bathroom!!”
“Did you clean your room?! Because it seriously looks like I drove a bulldozer through it and I could have sworn you JUST told me you cleaned it! What?! People will be coming in less than thirty minutes and your room looks TERRIBLE!”
Blah, blah, blah, yakitty shmack. You know the routine. The hustle and bustle of the holidays overtakes like a storm. Lots of coming and going, lots of appointments and shopping.
This morning I was reading in the book of Matthew and love what I found.
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law- justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain a gnat, but you swallow a camel!” -Matthew 23:23-24
I love how the word of God really puts it all into perspective. The Pharisees were quick to make a big deal out of certain issues of the law, but yet when it came to being merciful, just, and having faith…well not so much. They were quick to tithe but might neglect taking care of their parents who were older and in need. According to Jesus, they were white-washed tombs. They made the outside look so spectacular, yet inside were filled with death and decay.
We can say our Christmas is about giving to others, about love, about sharing Jesus with the world and celebrating with our family, but our day in day out words during this season are good clues about our priorities. We can work over-time to put on a beautiful presentation, one that our children will never remember. We can stress ourselves to no end about giving them everything on their list, even if it requires putting us in debt, while we neglect the one thing they’d remember…the time spent with them.
I truly want to focus on what’s important this Christmas. I don’t want to strain a gnat while swallowing a camel for Christmas dinner. That means putting love, mercy, justice, and faith at the forefront of priorities and making real memories.
For the rest of the holiday season, make an effort to embrace the mess that comes with baking, and playing, and enjoying. Your home is for living and to serve you, not the other way around. Make a commitment to let go of the stress that comes from performing, which we can all get caught up in, and get wrapped up in this amazing thing called serving. Then watch the stress melt away. It’ll be the greatest Christmas yet.
Because you and I can waste a lot of time and energy straining a gnat at Christmas dinner while we neglect the camel of serving our neighbors, loving on our family, and giving to those in need. I intend, by the grace of God, on making those things the main course at our house this year. Won’t you join me?