A 15-Day Christmas Devotional for an Untraditional Year

Cynthia Yanof

Host of Pardon the Mess

When Something is Missing at Christmas

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

—Luke 2:11 NIV

When I was growing up, my family had a beautiful Christmas nativity set in our living room that had been hand-painted by my grandmother. I remember the meticulously adorned kings, the elegant white angel, and the pristine animals more fit for a banquet than a barn.

It would have met anyone’s definition of the perfect nativity set except for one thing: baby Jesus was missing.

This was quite the conundrum since replacing Jesus in a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind nativity wasn’t something a quick trip to Hobby Lobby could remedy. Even without Jesus, my mom continued to display her nativity because what was missing didn’t overshadow the significance of what still remained (albeit Jesus was a pretty critical missing component).

Much like my childhood nativity, this Christmas feels like it has some missing parts. I’m missing all the gatherings with extended friends and family. I’m missing programs with my kids that have been canceled. I’m missing the usual Christman traditions and excitement of the season that is seemingly lost in a sea of quarantines and precautions.

But, unlike my childhood nativity, Jesus is in no way the missing piece of this Christmas. He’s nearer than ever, seeking to give us peace in our anxiety, confidence in our uncertainty, and hope in our difficulties.

And as you walk by your nativity this year, take time to consider the individual stories behind the bigger Christmas story. Think of the faith of Mary, who was willing to say yes even when it didn’t make sense. Or the obedience of Joseph, who did the God-ordained thing, even when it was anything but the easy one.

When you’re feeling discouraged about the way this year has gone, ask the Lord for a willingness to go any distance to meet with Jesus like the wise men did. And find ways to celebrate this season like the lowly shepherds, in complete awe and wonder of the newborn King.

It’s not the lights, presents, parties, or pageantry that we celebrate this time of year: it’s our Savior. Take a note from my mom and don’t let what’s missing keep you from celebrating what matters.

Guided Reflection

  1. What are you “missing” this year, and how are you tempted to focus on what’s gone rather than what’s present? Pray for renewed joy and anticipation this Christmas rooted solely in the presence of Jesus.
  2. Each person in the nativity has a backstory of faith and trust in the Lord. Consider the stories behind the story and ask the Lord for that same kind of faith, obedience, and courage in these hard days.
  3. This is a unique Christmas as much of the typical busyness is pared down in the face of a pandemic. Pray that this is one of your family’s most memorable Christmases. You’ve been given the opportunity to have a more singular focus on Jesus and each other.

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