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A Dented Fender Christmas

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

The bright, shiny lights of the Christmas tree are up. The newly wrapped gifts have been carefully placed underneath. The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care, but it’s not always St. Nicholas who arrives, but the Grinch!

Christmas can be a weird time. We can go into debt, spending what we don’t have, over guilt for something that happened years ago, all in the name of Christmas. We start to get convinced that if Meghan doesn’t get that desired expensive gift, all will be lost. Or we can look at our forlorn little tree, frustrated that yet another year goes by and we have no one to share it with. There’s the competing demands of different family members who all want a piece of us at Christmas time. And that’s before we add to the mix the rude, drunken relatives some of us have to endure, or the family wars that can break out over Christmas dinner. Always special.

Christmas can also be a time for comparing. Look at those crazy Jones’, we think. They’ve got lights that are timed to music! They seem to have so many fun parties going on that I’m never invited to. Every year their kids get the latest and greatest things. They seem so happy. Why can’t I have that, too? Never mind that the Jones’ could’ve maxed out their 8th credit card and may be swimming in debt up to their eyeballs! We can get so caught up in looking at the mirage of Christmas all around us, we forget to look at what is real, what truly matters.

So what is real? What does matter? I’m glad you asked …

Jesus. It sounds way too simple. Trite, even. We’ve all heard it a million times. Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for a census, but since there were so many people doing the same thing, the Inns were all full. Mary started was going into labor, so they found a stable they could stay in, and she gave birth to Jesus in a dirty barn full of animals. So what’s the big deal?

I want you to think about the most important, wealthiest, most accomplished and powerful person in this world that you know of. Now, think of that person making a decision to leave behind all their wealth, all their privilege and worldly power, and, assuming they could, decide to come back to this world as the child of a working class teenaged mother married to a blue-collar man, and to willingly be born in a barn. Oh, and you’re going to grow up and get persecuted, beaten and murdered. I can’t think of anyone volunteering for that role.

Yet God did. He sent a piece of himself to live here, on our beautiful but broken planet, and to enter this realm in the humblest manner possible. Jesus chose to leave his throne, to allow himself to be completely dependent on humans for a time, and to dedicate his life to their spiritual and emotional rescue. He didn’t just do this for mankind. He did this for me. He did this for you.

Christmas, at its core, is about taking time to acknowledge a love that runs so deep, there is nothing it won’t sacrifice. For that little baby would grow up to be a man, and that man would devote his life to teaching you and me how to be healed and whole from the inside out. He would commit every fiber of his being to helping us reach a kingdom so beautiful and rich, it will never perish and fade. This love for you and me was so strong, that eventually that man would allow himself to be sentenced and executed in our place so we would no longer have to bear the weight of our guilt and shame. He died for our freedom. He died for our peace. He died for our right of passage. And he allowed himself to be born here so he could give us those things.

That’s the true meaning of Christmas. Honestly, we don’t need a special day to acknowledge it. A tree really has nothing t