What does Christmas mean to you? I mean–really…what do you think of? Some things that immediately come to my mind when I think of the WORD Christmas…Jesus, lights, gifts…Christmas trees, cookies, carols…sweet time with family and friends…elves, Santa, reindeer…Macy’s, traffic, shopping. But really–what is Christmas all about to you? How we spend it–what we fill it with…the fruit of how we spend our days will speak for us. What does the preparation of Christmas look like? Christmas Eve? Christmas day? How are our HEARTS different and changed by how we spend it??? Oh how I wish I could say–it’s all about and only about Jesus here in my home. How I want it to be all about Jesus for both me and my family. But, I too, get side-tracked too often. BUT…really, looking back at my list–the ONLY thing that Christmas is about is Jesus. And HIS sacrifice. Maybe the Lord would want us to let some of these other things go a bit to let Jesus shine even more. Of course there is nothing wrong with these things–until they side track us or take any focus off the real thing. And one sure way to let Jesus shine more is to follow Him this season in what He showed us Christmas was all about when He came…one word says it all–sacrifice.
In the old testament, when God’s people sinned and needed to ask for forgiveness–they would bring a sacrifical lamb as a sin offering to cover their sin. It was some what of a payment/sacrifice for their sin. In Leviticus 4–instruction is given to bring a sacrificial female lamb without blemish. God wanted His people to bring the BEST, most treasured lamb–one that would actually be the BIGGEST SACRIFICE for them to part with. God also made His greatest sacrifice when He parted with His only Son. When you hear Jesus referred to as the sacrificial lamb–this is what it is referring to. So, it only makes sense that Christmas should really be more about sacrifice than any other thing. Sacrifice was the creation of Christmas! Yet, our culture makes it so much more about getting and giving in abundance to one another (especially to our children). Sure, we are sacrificing a bit when we hit the malls and shop for our family. It’s definitely money out of our pockets. But is it a sacrifice? Let alone compare it to the sacrifice our Lord made when He sent Jesus. YET–I think there would be nothing more pure, more honoring…sweeter…than to follow the Lord during this season in making a sacrifice in His name…for His glory…so that the world may know and be blessed through Him.
The kings sacrified their year traveling by foot to bring Him gifts (yes…did you know the journey required almost a YEAR’S TIME!). Joseph sacrificied his pride by marrying a women who appeared to be pregnant out of wedlock. Mary sacrificed her reputation and an opportunity to live a “normal” life…but willingly she followed. God sacrificed HIS ONLY SON…all the while knowing that in 33 years He would stand back, turn His face while His son was beaten and mocked–and His sacrifice is one of pain and heartache…and while many watched in amazement at the birth—God knew what this sacrifice would mean. The sacrificial lamb had come, so that we would have the opportunity to pray to God and have a personal relationship with him. And this—is really what happened at Christmas. It was sprinkled with pain, shame and…poured in sacrifice. This Christmas, my heart is being called to give sacrificially rather than out of comfort. Sure—I’ve got the presents under the tree and made “the list” a long time ago…but my heart is calling me deeper into what Christmas is REALLY about. And it’s not too late to come to the alter the way the Lord paved the way for us to this Christmas. After all–I think this is how the Christmas story really goes. There wasn’t much “comfort” in God’s letting Jesus come to the world. There wasn’t much comfort in Mary’s journey to get Him here. And there was little comfort in His life. And I’m really not sure how much comfort should be in mine…although our culture tells us we deserve it and we work hard for it. YET…most of the world doesn’t live the way we do. Why does the rest of the world deserve any less than we do? How can we sacrifice some our comfort to bless those in the world who are without? Will we really stop our busy, busy, busy to really—REALLY—sacrifice this Christmas? Will we take on a inkling of Mary’s bravery and say use me Lord? Will we have the perserverance of the wise men–to follow throughout the year…no matter how tired or weary we become? Can we let go of the “kingdoms” we have created in our own lives to willingly follow no matter the cost? Will we, like Joseph, die to our pride when others question our sacrifice and even say no to some things so we can SLOW down and BE AVAILABLE no matter the cost?
I wanted to take just a minute to share an amazing, sweet and sacrificial opportunity with you. Almost three years ago, we had a God moment where we ran into a friend who knew of a need in Zambia. There were hundreds of orphans without food, an education and care. We were able to join our friend along with a handful of other couples and start a non-profit to help this sweet community. Three years later, we have two schools, 400 orphans attending and 150 widows attending our program. These children are now attending school and eating a daily meal—AS YOU ARE READING THIS—these sweet children are sleeping…and each day when they go to school they are now loved on by a teacher…possibly the only mother figure role-model in their lives AND they are hearing the gospel. JUST this past Spring, we started our sponsorship program—and we are in need of families to join us and sponsor these sweet children. It is a sacrifice of $50 a month–and some of your sweet time as you write letters to your child and pour into him…letting him/her know that they have a family in the states that loves and prays for him. Because Zambia is some what of a closed country, these orphans will remain in Zambia–but because of Wiphan…they have a chance to grow, learn and make a living to support their family one day! YOU may be the only family they ever have from afar…but believe me…they WILL FEEL YOUR LOVE…and they will be SO THANKFUL AND PROUD to have you as a part of their sweet lives!!! And even cooler—one day you can even go hug them, visit them and let them know you never stopping praying for them!!! This is just ONE of the MANY ways to make a sacrfice for another this Christmas. Another need is giving to the general fund to help with daily needs—or the travel fun to help board members go over to help run the ministry. SO many ways we need others to join us— http://www.wiphan.org/
How sweet are these precious little eyes?! This image continues to pull my mommy heart. Would you join me in prayerfully considering joining us in sacrificing on behalf of the orphan and widow this Christmas?
My prayer today is that the Lord would help me to better understand what His desire is for Christmas. How does HE want to be glorified this season? How does HE want the world to be empacted today through remembering the sacrfice He made? OH LORD—let us like Mary say OKAY…I will do it. Open our hands Lord—open our hearts…and use us for YOUR GLORY.
[All images in this post taken with Nikon D80 – 18-200VR lens. All other images on my site are made with Canon 5D and 24-70L 2.8 lens. Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.]