In the Fullness of Time
“God Rest ye merry Gentlemen let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day” or so the carol goes. This year it snuck up on me. It has a habit of jumping out and scaring me like I’m a child in a haunted house, but this year it REALLY snuck up on me. I don’t know if it was starting to homeschool my fourteen-year-old son for the first time in his life or the constant chatter, arguments, and shenanigans from my twin four-year old’s that did it. But I am zero percent prepared for this Christmas 2022. Not a present has been purchased, not even a cookie baked.
This year the kids of our church will be performing a Christmas play by Little Big Stuff Music entitled, “A Christmas Yarn.” It is a twist on the famous story by Dickins, “A Christmas Carol.” My first exposure to this style of production was when I was four. I still remember watching my dad star and direct in a version of the story with a more Christ-centered plot. My first experience being in a Christmas play was when I was five. My sister and I were angels. During our song, I looked down to find my sister, who was three, fighting over the baby Jesus with another girl our age. This tug-of-war became so intense the swaddling cloth ceased to swaddle and baby Jesus was naked for all the church to see. Thankfully it was baby doll and not the real Christ Child. Luckily, I had the good sense to grab the naked doll, wrap it up, and put it back in the manger without missing a note of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I love watching kids discover the fun of recreating the Christmas story, although I’m not for sure my sister and I discovered any hidden talents that year.
As I’ve prepared to for this year’s play which I’m directing for our church, I’ve been overwhelmed with some of the lyrics for our songs. Lines that come from Isaiah 9 and other passages. God had a plan from the beginning. Sure everything was supposed to be different in the Garden of Eden, but He was ready with a solution to our Fall. It wasn’t an accident that Jesus came when He did. It was on purpose. At a very specific time. The plan for salvation didn’t “sneak up on God.” The apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:4-5 & 7, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive adoption as sons…So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
I find such encouragement from this passage. In a world that seems to have gone completely mad and every day brings more chaos, it is a good reminder that we have not been forgotten. Jesus will come again. God has not forgotten us or abandoned us. He has a set time for Christ’s return, and in the fullness of time, He will come. The state of our economy or moral and spiritual decay cannot hinder God’s plan. None of the trials and temptations we are facing today is too hard for us to handle because He has provided a way out for us.
So how do we as believers prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ birth? How do we intentionally make time for remembering our Christ Savior’s birth? Here are a few of the things I am working on for me and my family.
Advent devotional. Whether this is on the Bible app or in an old-fashioned book format, pick something that works for you but focuses on the birth of Christ. While there are all kinds of devotional books written for Christmas, find what works for you. Maybe dividing the Christmas story into small portions and reading a few verses every day is better. There are also some great resources on Right Now Media if you prefer a video option.
Family devotional time. If your family is in a good habit of spending time in God’s Word, simply focus your Scripture time on Christ’s birth. If your family struggles with this habit like mine does, this is the perfect time to start making a habit of reading Scripture together as a family and praying. If you can start a habit in December, I am sure you will be set up for success in 2023! Be sure to set reasonable expectations. Maybe you start once a week or reading a passage with a meal. For those with younger kids, there are tons of resources online to help keep little hands busy while keeping everyone focused on the birth of Christ.
Meet with the Body of Christ. I know it is a busy time. I know so much of what must be done in December means Sunday mornings are either busy with other things or it’s our only down time as a family. The problem with this is we need the community that happens at church. We need the support, the direction, the love, and accountability that comes with having a church family. Choosing to spend our few December Sundays in church will only add to your spiritual growth this Christmas.
Find ways to bless those around you. Are there needs around you that you could meet? Not just giving money to charities or donating food to our local foodbank. But can you, can I, find ways to bless people without any strings attached? Maybe it’s inviting people who are far from their family over for Christmas Dinner at your house. Maybe it’s sharing baked goods with a neighbor or helping an elderly person put up their Christmas décor. Involve the whole family in serving others at Christmas.
Let this Christmas be a time of growth. Both spiritually and in our relationships with family and friends. A time of eager expectation as we remember Christ’s birth and look forward to his return. May the light of Christ and the hope He brings shine bright in you and through you this December!