Suggested Scripture Readings: Genesis 1-2; Matthew 5:14-16
I feel like many of us mamas fit into two camps: those of us who are absolutely lit on fire by the adornments, decorations, and creations of the Christmas season, and those of us who would just like to light them on fire and be done with it all.
No matter which camp you find yourself in, or perhaps if you find yourself commuting between them with feelings of love and hate—I want to share a revelation with you.
Christmas is a celebration of craft.
Sure, there’s crafting ornaments, baking cookies, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts and all sorts of other “crafted” traditions at Christmas, but that’s not exactly what I mean (so don’t hyperventilate yet, non-creatives). I’m not really speaking of clothespin reindeer and cotton ball Santa beards, but to craft—to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity.
Craft is at the very heart of God. Genesis 1 tells us that our creator God made all the world and us in His image, and He did it with care and skill and SO MUCH ingenuity and imagination. Think of the exquisite palette of hair, skin, and eye colors; the timbres of different voices you love; the unique talents and giftings of your children; our differences in humor and height and opinion and experience; the soft and tender places where God’s love pricks each of us in an individual way. This is the workmanship of the Master Creator, and His craft is beautiful.
Now consider that this Creator, the very One who made us with such skill and care, of all the endless choices and possibilities, came to Earth in our flesh, in our likeness (John 1:14). This is the craft of Christmas. Christ, who was with God from the beginning, painted the whole picture for our world, and yet in that picture painted Himself as a servant, coming to us and all our stuff as a naked and helpless babe and then dying on a cross for our sins. Talk about ingenuity! Who would have imagined that?
And when the image of the invisible God was born in that dirty cattle stall, all of the earth that He Himself had created rejoiced. All of nature couldn’t help but declare the glory of His coming, He who is both the firstborn and the fulfillment of all creation.
Listen the words of some beloved Christmas carols, for example. Have you ever noticed that “all morning stars together proclaim the holy birth” (“O Little Town of Bethlehem”)? Or that “heaven and nature sing,” and that “fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy?” (“Joy to the World”). Even the ox and lamb “kept time!” (“The Little Drummer Boy”). If God’s other created works cried out in song, art, and light to celebrate Him and declare His glory, how much more appropriate for us, those who are made in His image? Go read Psalm 98. The stars were made to shine for the Lord, and so were we. He has crafted each of us uniquely with talents and tendencies that we might use them and enjoy them, but ultimately to reveal and reflect Him. Using our gifts is an act of worship and adoration of the Creator God.
So, dear Mamas, let’s challenge ourselves to a Crafted Christmas.
I can guess what you might be thinking. Maybe your heart is starting to beat faster. Does this mean that we’re called as moms to make elaborate Victorian-style gingerbread houses or intricate, homespun garlands of popcorn and cranberry that the dog (or your toddler) will eat 3 minutes later?
I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.
What I mean is, what are your gifts? Maybe you’re really good at tablescapes. Maybe untangling lights is your jam. Perhaps you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list AND stay within budget (come teach me your ways!). Whatever it is, if it’s life-giving for you and says to the world, “God made me and God created a plan to love me forever. LOOK! Isn’t He the most awesome?” then DO IT. Do that thing that sings a new song of joy unto the Lord. Do that thing that radiates His light. And help your kiddos discover what that thing is for them.
For some people that IS the artistic talent of wrapping presents in the most intricate and beautiful fashion. For some people that IS baking cookies in forty-five shapes that are (almost) too pretty to eat. For others that IS reading stories to their children in animated and expressive voices that bring the words to life. For others that IS telling jokes at the dinner table, or bringing loads of food to the needy without fanfare, or staying up late to put together all 600 plastic parts of the toy truck with as much patience and as little cursing as possible. My thing is dressing up like an elf and visiting elderly people in nursing homes (I’m not kidding).
What’s that thing for you?
For some people in some seasons, that thing IS being the reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness. That thing IS loving and listening and nurturing the people God’s given to you well, and absolutely nothing else. The art of loving one another well is no small gift, and if He’s crafted that into you, use it with abundance and with abandon.
Christ made that thing in you. Our God pulled out all the stops.
So don’t buy into the untruth that Christmas trappings and trimmings and tinsel and trees have no place in our remembering of Christ’s birth, and don’t buy into the lie that Christmas won’t be Christmas without the perfect place setting or Pinterest-worthy advent calendar. He’s so much bigger and more creative than all of that. Christmas is both a celebration of the best work of our God-given hands and a rescue mission for our biggest failures.
Because you know what else?
No sooner had He created the world than He also crafted a plan to redeem it all—the places shining brightly and the dark cattle stalls. Christmas is the Creator’s beautiful crafting of redemption for each of us, starting with one incredible artistic choice—His perfect son Jesus Christ come to dwell with and atone for us so that we might enjoy God forever.
So challenge yourself to a Crafted Christmas, whether in tree-trimming or servanthood or savoring silence and peace with the ones you love. Maybe you might start in the aisles of Michael’s or Target or Hobby Lobby. Maybe you’ll start at the kitchen sink. Wherever you find yourself in your traditions this Christmas, look for the Artist. You’ll find Him in the deep and special place He created in you that echoes His glory, with bells and jingles and whistles and whispers.
Glow with the fingerprints of our Creator God, and sing that He would choose to put on flesh for all of us, for all of this.
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
- Are you more prone to believe that "Christmas trappings and trimmings and tinsel and trees have no place in our remembering of Christ’s birth" OR that "Christmas won’t be Christmas without the perfect place setting or Pinterest-worthy advent calendar?" How does this meditation challenge that way of thinking?
- What is your "craft?" How can you bring God glory this Christmas season using the unique gifts he's given you?
Austin Kristoff is a Virginia girl living in a lowcountry world. When she is not chasing her two handsome little guys, she's probably singing in the grocery store aisle...for the third time this week. She believes the best life is made up of holding hands with her husband Nick, the perfect twirling dress, driving through tree tunnels with the windows down, spontaneous hugs from her sons, the best teasing comb, and the always-unfolding miracles of God's perfect beauty, grace, and faithfulness in the everyday (and also maybe a fountain Dr. Pepper). When courage and time allow, she tells stories on instagram and on her blog, www.ppforshort.com .