The house up the street from us was fully lit for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, a decorated tree twinkling in the front window. It’s lovely! But I admit my blood pressure goes up when I see it. My to-do list for December is so long, I won’t be getting to decorations for a couple of weeks. When did the lead-up to Christmas get so crazy?
Heading into Advent, I find myself longing for the peace of the manger — or at least the peace promised in Christmas cards and Nativity icons. I’ve been thinking about what that must have been like for Mary and Joseph: traveling while pregnant; a noisy, over-crowded town; a crib among livestock. Jesus chose a troubled time to bring his peace to earth.
The peace that Jesus gives
The kind of peace Jesus gives is evidently not the peace of inactivity or of everything going the way you think it will. As he said later in his life, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27). It seems too much to ask, but I want that peace! Peace in the middle of the shopping and cleaning and decorating and hosting, peace in the middle of the problems that are throwing me off my game.
Get inspiration from the magi
Are you looking for that too? Like me, maybe you can take some inspiration from the magi who traveled so far to find the Christ child (you can read about them here). Right now you might feel like them: far away and not quite sure how to get to your destination. Here are a few things the magi did, that we can do too:
1. Leave distractions behind.
To take a thousand mile trip, the magi had to take off work, put things in storage, say goodbye for a while. We can’t leave everything behind like they did, but consider whether some things can be dropped for the season to make room for the journey of Advent.
2. Aim to worship.
The magi had a reason for their trip. They weren’t just tourists, they went to worship the new king. Do you have a personal goal for Advent? Is it to see Jesus in a new way and to worship — or something less spiritual? It’s not bad to want other things too. But remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:32-33: “. . . the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
3. Follow the star.
When you go for a walk, you tend to end up where you fix your eyes. The magi followed the star all the way to Bethlehem. Where is your focus? On Jesus, or on your to-do list or your problems? Is there something you can you do each day that will help you keep your eyes on him?
4. Don’t give up.
The magi assumed they’d find the new king at Herod’s palace. Instead of giving up or turning around when they did not, they asked where they could find him and then kept on looking. Sometimes we assume we’ll find the peace we long for in our family, or gifts, or a Christmas event. If you don’t, don’t give up! Ask the Lord where he is, and keep heading for that Star. Ask him to help you and come to you.
The magi found Jesus. They gave him gifts and he gave them “great joy.” I imagine the sight of Jesus with Mary his mother lingered in their minds a long time and renewed the peace and joy they felt at the manger.
I pray for you this Advent, that you too will find your way to peace and joy in Christ.
© 2018 Sarah Christmyer
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Come to the Manger and Find Peace this Advent! This 30-minute talk draws inspiration from the shepherds, the magi, and others who made their way to the manger that long-ago Christmas.
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Learn about the Jesse Tree tradition and download a free reading plan that takes you from Creation to Jesus in the days leading up to Christmas:
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