Christmas is fast approaching and, as usual, the streets and roundabouts in various places in Malta have been decorated with lights, stars, Christmas trees and Nativity ornaments. In the more recent years, Baby Jesus had been stolen from various spots on a number of occasions. I’m not sure whether it was someone’s warped sense of humour or a vicious rebellion to the true sense of Christmas; but, in any case, it upset me to see an empty crib.
This Advent I was thinking: “will someone steal Baby Jesus again?” However, as I was praying, I took this question to a deeper level as I asked myself: “is someone or something stealing my Baby Jesus from my crib?” My first instinct was to be a Pharisee and think: “as if I would let that happen! ” ( in a better than thou voice). It is easy to imagine the crib of a person living far from The Lord. Jesus would be replaced by indifference and an endless list of sinful actions.However, after a few honest thoughts I realized that my crib is not necessarily any better.
Recently, I have been passing through a very busy time involving many changes in my life. I have read that if the devil cannot make you sin he will make you busy. I have found this to be true on various occasions.
I have moved house temporarily to do some renovations at home. This, is in itself, a positive thing; an answer to a long standing prayer for which we are very grateful to Jesus. However, it has caused significant time- consuming errands and general “genn” in addition to an already busy schedule. In the same month, I have started working longer hours at hospital due to a work restructuring. Needless to say, the children’s diary has remained as full as ever with school, sports activities, and our community life is on a “business as usual” mode.
All of this has taken its toll on me and my family. Now, I am the sort of person who thrives on stress. I am quite an adrenalin-junkie. However, I have been stretched to near-breaking point in certain moments. So, looking at my crib, amongst the straw I could see a whole list of errands, a busy work schedule, stress, financial worries, revision lists for the boys, along with my community life, meetings and a whole lot of other things… In fact not very different to the crib of the man who lives away from God. I had crowded out JESUS slowly but surely.
Ironically, some of the things that had come to steal my peace were good things in themselves, even gifts from the Lord. However, when given the wrong priority they were robbers nonetheless. This came to me as a bit of a shock but I decided to do something about it by putting things into the right order of priority. I need Jesus to be first in my heart and mind and Lord of my life in all circumstances.
“Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” Matt 6:33
This is what I understand by “putting CHRIST back into Christmas.” Advent is a great time to start.
What about your crib? Has anyone stolen your baby Jesus?!