Holidays When Things are Messy: Think of “The Four” (How to Prepare for Advent & Christmas When Life’s Kinda Messed Up)

Snow’s coming down here now like confetti for a party that just won’t stop and the orchard just keeps on welcoming the whole thing.

That’s what Advent means — coming.

This waiting for the coming of the holy party.

And Kai’s shaking trees like a big kid at the party and grinning that there are apples still hanging on the trees in the orchard in the middle of all our shaking snow globe.

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24 Candle Advent Wreath & Manger with Star: Joywares.ca

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: Best Devotional & Gift Book of the Year, CBA, 2019
Levi Voskamp

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Kai’s got the trees feting him now and the dog’s romping like some circus act under the shaking branches –and if snow falls off trees in the orchard does anybody hear the sound of wonders coming?

It happens when you open the pages of Scripture to read of His coming, of this first Advent,
before you ever read of the birth of Jesus —
you always have the genealogy of Jesus.

Yeah, maybe that’s the way the Gift unwraps: you have to have Christ’s ­family tree . . . before you have a Christmas tree.

We’re standing out there in trees and the snow coming down and it feels like relief:

If you don’t come to Christmas through Christ’s family tree and you come into the Christmas story just at the Christmas ­tree —​ it’s hard then to understand the meaning of His coming.

Because without the genealogy of Christ,
the limbs of His past,
the branches of His family,
the love story of His heart that has been coming for you since before the ­beginning –​­
how does Christmas and its tree stand?

Its roots would be sheared. 

The arresting pause of the miracle would be lost.

Because in the time of prophets and kings,
the time of Mary and Joseph,
it wasn’t your line of credit,
line of work,
or line of accomplishments
that explained who you were.

It was your family line.
It was your family tree.

It was family that mattered.
Family gives you context,
and origin gives you understanding,

and the family tree of Christ always gives you hope.

The coming of Christ was right through families of messed-​­up monarchs
and battling brothers,
through affairs and adultery
and more than a feud or two,
through skeletons in closets
and cheaters at tables.

It was in that time of prophets and kings, the time of Mary and Joseph, that men were in genealogies and women were invisible.

But for Jesus,
women had names
and stories
and lives
that mattered.

The family tree of Christ startlingly notes
not one woman but four
.
The Four: Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth.

Tricia Robinson Art

Four broken ­women—​­
women who felt like outsiders,
like ­has-​­beens,
like ­never-​­beens.

Women who were weary
of being taken advantage of,

of being unnoticed
and uncherished
and unappreciated;

women who didn’t fit in,
who didn’t know how to keep going,
what to believe,
where to ­go—​­
women who had thought about giving up.

And Jesus claims exactly these who are
wandering
and wondering
and wounded
and worn out as
His.

And then?

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: Best Devotional & Gift Book of the Year, CBA, 2019

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Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Family Edition): Best Inspirational Book of the Year, CBA, 2016

Advent Resource: Messiah Manger with Star: Joywares.ca
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Family Edition): Best Inspirational Book of the Year, CBA, 2016

Then He turns to you, right where you are — and:

He grafts you into His line
and His story
and His heart,
and He gives you
His name,
His lineage,
His righteousness.

No matter your story —Jesus is writing you even now into a restorative story. 

He graces you with plain grace.

Is there a greater Gift you could want or need or have?

Christ comes right to your Christmas tree
and looks at your family tree and says,
“I am your God,
and I am one of you,
and I’ll be the Gift,
and I’ll take you.
Take Me?”

This, this, is the love story that’s been coming for you since the beginning.

You don’t want to miss it — miss Him.

Advent Resource: Messiah Manger with Star: Joywares.ca

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The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: Best Devotional & Gift Book of the Year, CBA, 2019

The Greatest Gift (adult edition): Best Devotional of the Year, ECPA, 2014

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The Greatest Gift (adult edition): Best Devotional of the Year, ECPA, 2014

So there’s this pause and investing in what matters.
There is a Stilling.
Pondering.
Hushing.
Each day of Advent, He gives the gift of time — so we have time to be still and wait.

Wait for the coming of the God in the manger who makes Himself bread for us near starved.

For the Savior in swaddlings who makes Himself the robe of righteousness for us worn out.

For Jesus, who makes precisely what none of us can, but all of us want: Christmas.

There, here, in the midst of the inconceivable,
the loud claims,
the hard sells,
the big spectacles,
Christ comes small,
the micro- macro-​­miracle who comes in the whisper and says,
Seek Me. Take Me.

I take you… I still take you. 

When Kai turns with Shalom to run in from the orchard with the dog, you can see it — hear it.

The apple trees hanging out in the orchard — they look ornaments hanging waiting even in these moments, like the decking has begun.

And when snow falls off a tree in the orchard and you are there to hear it — maybe it makes the sound of grace?

Advent, it is made of the moments of waiting —

waiting in all this slow unfurling of grace.

 

Come, especially when things are kinda messy, & experience a Christmas that restores your Hope again 

This Advent, just as things are, Stay in the Story,
the Story the rest of your year, your family, will need.

3 Award-Winning books for the Whole Family

The Greatest Gift (adult edition): Best Devotional of the Year, ECPA, 2014

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Family Edition): Best Inspirational Book of the Year, CBA, 2016

 The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: Best Devotional & Gift Book of the Year, CBA, 2019

(pop-up edition with your own 14 inch tree, 25 days of readings, 25 day advent flap calendar, hiding all 25 Biblically inspired ornaments! For any age) 

Even when things are messy & hurting, we can
Stay in the Story,
Unwrap the Greatest Gift —
& still have the gift, even now, of

The Greatest little Christmas