For many adults and children alike, Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Families come together, gifts are exchanged, and plenty of food is eaten. But with so much going on, we can find ourselves so wrapped up in the business and blur of the season that we miss what Christmas is all about. We become so enveloped in trying to find the perfect Christmas tree, sing the perfect Christmas songs, and find that perfect gift for loved ones that we forget that these minor things are not the true meaning of Christmas. It is so important for us to realize that we need to slow down and be reminded of our Savior’s birth and the story of the first Christmas. Author Karen Straszheim shares her experience and thoughts about Christmas in her book A Sanctuary in Our Midst. She walks readers through that first Christmas night, shares of the events leading up to it, and explores what it means to us today. She reminds us not to get caught up or strung out in the midst of the holiday madness and rush. Her book helps place the focus where it should be during the busy Christmas season: on Jesus.
“People in the Bible were glad for what they learned about God from prophecy. At Christmas, we also can be glad for what we learn about God from Scripture. One day, we will enter heaven with everlasting joy. For now, we can enter Christmas with singing, gladness, and joy. He came so we can know Him.”
“If God had not loved and protected Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, what would have been the outcome for them? In Matthew, it says that “Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.” There was heard among the people “weeping and great mourning . . . Parents weeping for their children . . . because they [were] no more” (Matt. 2:16,18). But Joseph and Mary returned to Israel with their child still living. God’s love was shown to them through the protection of their child’s life.
“Some people feel unloved or abandoned throughout the year and these feelings are noticed even more in the Christmas season. Our culture says this is a time to be with family. But for some, the people they’d like to be with are absent. A parent hasn’t been there for them as a child or an adult. For others, an important person has left, quit, walked out or died, leaving them feeling deserted, cast off, or rejected. A person who has been abandoned can feel lonely, forgotten, forlorn, or sometimes hopeless. ”God, however, says, ‘I will live among the [people] and won’t abandon my people’ (1 Kings 6:13). Jesus had a Father who loved Him and didn’t abandon Him to permanent death. We have the same Father who gives the same love and care to us He gave to His son Jesus (John 17:23, 26). We have hope in a love that is unfailing (Ps. 147:11). He shows us His love with the forgiveness He offers us. His compassions are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). He is merciful and faithful to us (Heb. 2:17). God is a parent who is there for His children. He listens to us attentively: ‘ . . . You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:12-13).
“If you are feeling lonely or forgotten this Christmas, call on your heavenly Father. Pray and let Him know how you are and what you need. He will be there for you.” “God is both supremely above us and with us. Jesus, He who saves, is also Immanuel, God with us. He is a king who is a servant to His people (John 13:1-16). God gave me a banquet of knowledge about Himself and then proclaimed a holiday. He “distributed gifts with royal liberality,” which included the gift of rest (Esther 2:18). This idea changed my thinking about Christmas.
“Christmas, for me, now isn’t the usual, a time to be busy. It has become a time for understanding what rest is: rest from sin and rest from work; a time for having joy in who Jesus is and what He came to do. Ezekiel 37:28 says, “The nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy when my sanctuary is among them forever.” As a sanctuary, God shelters His people. He watches over us and takes care of us. He is in our midst to help us in the ways we need. This Christmas, may you, too, find Him doing the unexpected in your life in ways that show you He is a sanctuary.”
To learn more about Straszheim and A Sanctuary in Our Midst, visit HERE.