A Perfect Hallmark Christmas

All five of my kids are coming home for Christmas this year; I can hardly contain my excitement! With one missionary family and two pastors in the mix, merging our Christmas schedules is challenging. It has been thirteen years since we were all together on Christmas. Admittedly, I inwardly sigh with contentment whenever I picture them all here!

I’ve been preparing for weeks—scouring thrift stores and yard sales for jackets, snowsuits, and boots for the kids from California and Ecuador who won’t be bringing their own. I’ve stocked shelves with preserves, created Christmas stockings for all, and begun planning special meals.

Just think, all of us in one place making memories: worshiping together, Christmas caroling, opening Christmas stockings, sledding, baking cookies, playing games, and watching Christmas movies. Yes, I think I’ve been subconsciously preparing my own Hallmark Christmas movie scenario!

It will be a classic story, everyone under one roof, sitting around the same table together… But wait! How will we fit twenty-two around our table? How will eleven adults and eleven children sleep in four bedrooms? What foods can we agree on with many coming from different locations and traditions? How will the children feel, celebrating a holiday far from the place they each call “home?” Will tension spoil my highly-anticipated, perfect Hallmark Holiday?

My thoughts drift to imagining God as he made the perfect plan of redemption—the reason for Christmas, after all. He would send his perfect Son, at just the right time, to his precious people, to live and to die for them, providing the way for all to come to his home in heaven. But the earthly story had a seemingly sorry beginning: finding no room in the inn, sleeping in a manger, even fleeing to a foreign land from a murderous king. It continued with wilderness temptations, hometown rejections, traps laid by religious rulers, and the ultimate finale: betrayal and death. This was no Hallmark movie, yet along the way, Jesus lived a life of love, living as one of the humans that he came to serve. He came, knowing we’d betray and kill him, but then a plot twist: death was not the finale! He rose, conquering sin and death, and did what he ultimately came to do, providing a way for anyone to come Home!

Are all of our longings for home-—for a complete family gathering, a perfect ending to the story—truly a longing for him? Is finding our completeness only possible as part of his forever family? I believe so!

I know my family’s Christmas is going to be chaotic; best laid plans will likely flounder or fail, but we gather together to celebrate Jesus, the One who never fails, the One who came to make the ultimate family celebration possible in his Home forever! That will be the perfect ending!

But on our way to the ultimate perfect ending, we live here. Let us live lives of love, as Jesus did, to all we meet, through the power he gives us, sharing with others the hope, forgiveness, and promise of Home for all who believe.

Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
Learn more about Women’s Ministries: www.WMCLB.org
Reach out at: WMCLBContact@gmail.com

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