Close to Him: Christmas Reflections & New Years’ Resolutions

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My favorite Christmas movie, story, play- hands down, since I was a little girl, is Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol. My heartSCROOGE swells and rejoices every time I witness the rebirth of Ebenezer Scrooge. My favorite part is the end when Dickens declares that Scrooge “knew how to keep Christmas all the year ’round.”

After we watched “Scrooge” this year I began to meditate on what it means to “keep Christmas all year.” Over the last month the Lord gave me some sweet and joyful insights on what that would look like. It began about two weeks before Christmas. I was puttering around the kitchen when Grace came up to me and said: “Mama, I want to give you an early Christmas present!” and then wrapped her arms around me in a long tight embrace. She looked up with a smile and said: “Love is the best gift of all! Because Jesus came to earth to love us. He loved us, so He came to us.”

Emmanuel– God with us.

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God .… and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 14)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)

Friday a week before Christmas Gracie came home with a back pack full of Christmas activities from school. I unfolded one big poster entitled “Christmas is all about: Jesus!” The first question said: “What gift would you bring Jesus?” Inside the gift box Gracie drew a picture of a big red heart. I asked her what she meant by her drawing—“Would you give Jesus love for his birthday?”

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Gracie’s gift for Jesus

“Noooo!” She said in a sweet sing-song voice, “I give Him my heart!”

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind…(Matthew 22:37- The 1st and greatest commandment)

About two days before Christmas Grace was watching some YouTube videos of children reenacting the Christmas story. (The link to the one that inspired her is here: The Christmas Story) She watched this particular version about 4 times in a row. Then she gasped—loudly! And a flood of excitement gushed from her mouth: “Oh, Mama! I just had the BEST idea! I want to do a PLAY on Christmas day with all my cousins and aunts and uncles and Nana and Pap Pap! Because Christmas is all about Jesus, and I just want everyone to KNOW that! Oh, Mama, I’m so excited about this I’m not even thinking about the presents anymore, I don’t even care about that! Because THIS is what Christmas is about! It’s about Jesus! Who loves us and came to us.”

The Shepherds Freaking Out By Gracie Gill

“The Shepherds Freaking Out”
By Gracie Gill

“Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy, for unto you this day in the city of David, a savior is born, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

“Unto you a child is born, unto you a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulder, and he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Our little play on Christmas was about the sweetest thing ever. I can say without hesitation that this particular Christmas was one where I was filled with the most joy, in spite of some very hard and heartbreaking circumstances that have been swirling all around us. Why? Because our Christmas was centered where it was meant to be- on Christ. CHRIST-mas! I was more than amused for the weeks leading up to Christmas when Gracie would say: “We need to call it “CHRIST-mas, because it is about Jesus CHRIST the Lord!”

It occurred to me that this simple truth was the cornerstone of what it meant to “keep Christmas all the year.” It was driven home by a moment where Grace was inching the Wise men of her nativity set on their journey toward Jesus. She said: “Now, Mama, when they get there, don’t spread them all out in the display- ok?” As she crowded all the nativity figures around Jesus she said: “Don’t move them away— They all want to be close to Him…. They always want to be close to Him.”

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

I began to ponder all the people who wanted to be close to Jesus, from His birth and through his ministry… the shepherds, the wise men, the crowds of people who swarmed around Jesus because they just wanted to be close to him, and of course, His disciples who perceived that Jesus was the person they needed to be close to…

Peter said: Lord, to whom would we go? You have the very words of life. (John 6:68)

Then it occurred to me that we are shaped by those who we spend the majority of our time with. As a Christian, God’s greatest desire is to conform me to the likeness of Jesus. That will best happen by centering on Jesus, relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit, and spending time close to Him in His love- not just at Christmas- but all the year ‘round. When I’m close to Him I’m able to give to others near me the best gifts all year ’round- gifts of LOVE that mirror His gift of love… love that shows up and is present, love that is sacrificial, transforming and redemptive. So this is my one and only New Years’ resolution- I ask that you prayerfully consider joining me. Keep Christmas all the year: Stay Close to Him. 

Gracie's Nativity

Gracie’s Nativity

Those who are far from you will perish…. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73: 27, 28)

JOHN 316

 

 

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie Althouse January 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm

AMAZING little girl you have! Love it Grace!

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J January 4, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I’m in on this resolution. I am getting off to a great start. Spending more time with him in the morning and seeking to walk in the Spirit throughout the day. Today is day 4. So far so good 🙂

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Steve January 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Great insight! I like it when younger people can teach us older ones a good lesson.

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Deb January 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Hi Monica, It’s Deb. I needed to read this today. I had been feeling like I needed to get back to reading my Mom’s old Living Bible and feeling drawn back to getting close again to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. He’s been prompting me to get back with it. Thinking about Him all during the holidays but never just sitting down with Him and giving Him my time, and reading and focusing on Him with all of the busyness of Christmas and New Years. I decided to just STOP and read this today. Just STOP all the activity ……… immediate peace came over me…….yes, this IS what the Lord wants me to do. Just stop today. Focus on Him. Clear my head of any thoughts that hinder me. Give Him my time, alone with Him. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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KL January 5, 2016 at 3:09 pm

HE must have been whispering in your ear. I needed to read this reflection. It has been a very difficult year for me and have felt lost. I haven’t felt close to Him in a long time. Thank you for reminding me to be like Gracie. I am totally in awe of her love of Christ. I will join you and make my resolution to be closer to Him. Thank you Monica AND Gracie!

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