Live Out Christmas: A Waffle House Story

A number of years ago my family started a tradition on Christmas Eve. We went out to Waffle House (because generally if you are working at Waffle house on Christmas Eve you need the money) on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast. We would gather our money together, and leave the waitress a $100 tip. It was a little opportunity to share some of the joy of Christmas, and the love of Christ to a stranger. We kept doing it every year. This year I will be taking my family to Waffle House to do the same. It’s a tradition worth continuing. It is an important reminder.

We see all of those post around this time of year on Facebook “Keep Christ in CHRISTmas.” That’s great advice, but what does that look like? Does it look like posting that meme stating this very thing? That seems to lack some impact. Some would seem to think it means saying “Merry Christmas” instead of the Satan infused “Happy Holidays.” I meant to write on this a ways back and make a much bigger setup, but time got away from me. I still wanted to share a little bit though. I think this message I want to share is important. I have observed all of these influx of Merry CHRISTmas posts for a few years, and it strikes me that the intentions mean well. People want to be a part of something bigger. They want to be a part of sharing this good news, but I think we struggle with finding outlets for it.

Have you ever thought about how the various characters in the Christmas story had their lives completely changed? How do you think the Magi lived after they finally found the Messiah? Who do you think the shepherds told about what they saw out in the field that night? How did they live? We have grown up in this odd tension for Christianity. There is the constant pull over speaking vs. doing. How do we care for the needy? Isn’t the best way to care for the needy telling them about Jesus?

This past Sunday our advent was on Mary. She received a message from an angel. It was incredible news. There was a child. The messiah was going to come, and she was being invited for a miraculous opportunity to take part in this grand story. She received a message. Her life was forever changed. How do you think she lived after that moment? I wonder if her actions became more purposeful. I wonder if she interacted with people differently. All we know for certain is that her response required action. She surrendered herself to be a servant for God in this way. The response to the message was living out the message.

We have the whole “speaking out Christmas” thing down pretty well, but I often ask myself how well I do on the “living” part. How do I live out Christmas in a way that provides context to those words? I struggle with that more than I would like to admit. I’m not sure what this looks like for you. Maybe it means caring for the needs of a family member. Maybe it means showing love to that person you know does not care about Christmas. It could be spending time with your family and loving on your spouse and children. Perhaps it means showing a little glimmer of hope to a stranger even if it means sacrificing a little time or money. Maybe this is through laughter and cheer, maybe by providing a meal, or perhaps even giving a $100 tip to that waitress who is working on Christmas Eve. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but this Christmas Eve I am going to be at Waffle House doing everything I can to live out Christmas. It may not be much, but it’s a start.


Ezra, Jesus, and a Messy World

Yesterday Ezra (my oldest son) was sick. He had some old milk that made his tummy very upset resulting in a bit of a mess to clean up before work. I don’t do vomit. I hate it. The stomach bug is one of the worst non-lethal sicknesses I can ever deal with, and my son sat there struggling from the pain of his tummy and the mess he had created all over his pajamas. I hate vomit. Yet I still found myself quickly wishing to clean my son and attempt to soothe him to help him feel better.

Jesus inherited a mess. He came into a messy world using a messy method, and lived amongst messy people. It may seem odd, but I too often forget the sheer amount of love that was required for Jesus to live on this earth. The amount of compassion shown to a people who were stuck in a life that they had no hope off fixing on their own is mind boggling, but I still manage to forget it often.

I like this time before Christmas. It is a period of reflection. My family and I do advent, and last Sunday was on the prophets while tomorrow will be on John. I am a little late to the game in posting about this so I will be lumping these two together a bit. The prophets foretold of the mess the world was currently in. They pointed to the ugliness of humanity, and of the need for something greater to rescue them from despair. They pointed to the problem, but also the solution. This solution must have been incredibly fuzzy to their audience, and the prophets themselves. Little of it made sense. The only thing that seemed clear was that there would be a Messiah who would provide salvation. He would bring peace to His people.

Enter John. John pointed to the solution in the flesh. The Messiah. The lamb who would take away the sins of the world. The Messiah had arrived, and the promise of God was now living amongst these people. He came and he went, but yet still we see a messy world around us. A world that remains filled with burdens. A world where a husband tells his wife that he doesn’t love her anymore and is leaving her. It is a land where men, women, and children starve to death. It is a desert where men strap bombs to themselves and fly [planes into buildings. It is a soul who remains tormented by heartache over the pain of loved ones. The world is still a messy place.

Jesus set out to fix the biggest mess of all. My favorite title for the Messiah is Prince of Peace. We look at the world and see it enflamed with war and violence. These past few years have seemed especially difficult. Where is the peace? The peace is in the form of God’s relationship with man. Sins has been covered. The price has been paid. The time for fear is over for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord. The greatest peace we could ever need has arrived. We have access to our creator. A real relationship can be developed.

Jesus came into the mess, but he came with unique purpose. A Purpose to allow us to have peace in the midst of strife. Comfort in the storm of pain. Salvation.

John proclaimed that peace was for the taking in the here and now. Peace between God and man. So for now we wait. We rest in the embrace of the Prince of Peace who has freed us from the mess of sin, and wait for his second coming when all things will be set right. We remember, and we wait.