What’s Necessary This Christmas

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. —Psalm 94:19 ESV

Every December, I get a sudden urge to be festively busy.

I suddenly feel like if I’m not baking cookies, planning events, doing holiday crafts, or decorating — well, everything — then my kids will struggle to have a merry holiday season.

But sometimes the best-laid plans fail. Like that Sunday night I was going to create an elaborate hot- chocolate bar for our family’s Advent celebration. My Crock-Pot failed to work properly. The chocolate burned. I couldn’t find the marshmallows. The candy canes were crushed. And by the time I sorted out the mess, I had nothing festive to serve during our family Advent time.

Guess what? We still had a wonderful time. We sang songs, we read the Bible together, we talked, we snuggled in blankets under the Christmas lights, and we had a truly memorable night.

No cocoa. No cookies. No Christmas ornament crafts to align with the theme.

I want to encourage you this holiday season: Yes, the cookies and crafts and parties and hot cocoa bars are a ton of fun. But they aren’t necessary for a meaningful Christmas season.

What’s necessary is Him. Jesus. Just Him.

So when you’re getting the urge to bake more cookies, plan more parties, do more crafts, and do and be more, just stop. Pause. And focus on Him.

Jesus, You are the reason for this season, so help me to press into what really matters, even as I am festively busy. Amen.

~Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:6

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Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us. — Luke 1:78 NLT

“What were you doing outside?” my husband, Kevin, asked as I came in the back door. “It’s only sixteen degrees.”

“I wanted a picture of the sunlight coming through the icicle.”

“What icicle?”

I pointed out the picture window. A three-foot icicle hung from the edge of our cabin in northern Arizona, the frozen tip ending right above the patio table covered in twelve inches of December snow.

Eyes wide, Kevin grabbed his camera. As we stepped outside, two stellar jays darted back and forth among the branches of the towering ponderosa pines, playing a game of tag above us. Snow cascaded like a promise, the white shower landing on our shoulders. A gray squirrel ventured out, seeking a forgotten seed under the abandoned bird feeder. He chattered his displeasure when he came up empty. The horizon above the frozen lake was stained tangerine as a mountain chickadee hopped on the porch railing, joining the morning menagerie.

Suddenly, the birds and squirrel stilled, as if obeying an unspoken cue. Breathless, we joined the rest of creation in wordless testimony as the first rays of dawn hit our faces. The icicle beside us blazed as shafts of light refracted in all directions, striking the diamonds in the snow with golden color.

Our cameras captured the moment of God’s daily mercy still breaking forth in a new day. The birds trilled the morning song as the squirrel dove once more in the snow and came up with a forgotten seed.
Daybreak had come.

Jesus, may Your tender mercy that brought You to this earth break out of my heart and refract in all directions.

~Lynne Hartke

Digging Deeper: Luke 1:77-79; John 1:1-4

Excerpted with permission from Daily Guideposts 2022, copyright Guideposts.

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Your Turn

Let’s turn our hearts to Jesus this Christmas and remember that He truly is the Reason for the Season. It’s about Him. All the sparkle and events are wonderful, but the focus is Him! He’s the true joy!

For over eighty years, Zondervan has partnered with authors to deliver transformational, educational and vocational resources that renew minds, enrich lives, and change the world.

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