Whether Christmas Was Merry or Messy

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, it’s the day after Christmas, and many of us are over-stuffed, under-slept, very-spent, but mostly grateful. We’re so thankful Jesus actually came into the world for us. It’s profoundly freeing, not cliché, to know all we truly need is Jesus, and anything else you provide.

For those of us for whom Christmas Day went really well, we worship you as the God from whom all blessings flow and good gifts are given. For those of us for whom the day was kinda-messy, we trust you as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

The day after Christmas, a five-star bed-and-breakfast didn’t open up for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. And when the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. Life remained complicated and difficult for them. They were still “profiled” as untrustworthy members of the community.

Father, thank you, that as followers of Jesus, we don’t have to pretend about anything. Jesus came into a broken world, with broken stories, for broken people. You call us to believe, not to make-believe; to delight in you, not deny reality. We are to be still and know that you are God; not get busy and prove we are competent.

Help us live these next few days in Gospel-gratitude and neighbor-love. Keep us from getting in too big of a hurry to clean up the messes, put up decorations, or shift into New Year’s Eve party-mode. May we linger in the presence of the One who has come to save, heal, and free us.

Father, enable us to live and love the rest of 2019 by the lyric, music, and dance of the Gospel—no matter our storylines, challenges, or “situations.” May we never forget, “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love” (Gal. 5:6). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.