This week, we kick off a short advent series titled Set the Table. Our lives are busy – you might feel overwhelmed and stressed as Christmas draws near.

You are still trying to find that perfect gift for a relative or can’t find the time to go get your tree or hang the lights or…

Life is busy, for sure.

This season take a moment and pause…Thanksgiving is behind you, and you survived. Amazon will be able to deliver your gifts to your loved ones, and those lights will get hung, and you might even enjoy them into the new year.

I want to turn our focus to that first Christmas…you know, the one I’m talking about…Mary and Joseph and the stable. However, before we get the crowning achievement and realize what baby Jesus means to us and for us, let’s also take a brief pause and see how the birth of Jesus began.

The Beginning

It all started with Adam and Eve. Huh?! Yep, that’s right, it all began in the Garden of Eden. I promise it won’t take me 2,000 years to recap the story that led to the birth of Jesus.

God’s rescue plan, Jesus, began with Adam and Eve when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. When Adam took the bite of the apple, God’s rescue plan began.

The birth of Jesus was foretold in Isaiah 9:6,

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

For centuries, the prophecies of the Bible signaled God’s rescue plan to the next generations. When the book of Malachi concluded, there were 400 years of silence, and the rescue plan began to showcase the coming Messiah.

Mary & Elizabeth

Mary (the mother of Jesus) was a young teen when she became pregnant with the Son of God. Her cousin, Elizabeth, also became pregnant (although she was quite a bit older than Mary). Elizabeth’s baby would be the forerunner to Jesus.

During Mary’s pregnancy, she visited Elizabeth for an extended period, and when Mary entered the room during one of the visits, the baby within Elizabeth jumped for joy.1

Setting the Table

As you gather in your homes and around dinner tables with friends and family, you have to set the table for a meal.

For Thanksgiving, I consulted a utensil diagram to ensure I had all the flatware in the right spots.

The seasons are often marked with heartache, heartbreak, love, joy, peace, confusion, and other emotions. I don’t know your family dynamic or what your Christmas adventures will bring you, but sometimes we need to set the table and enable conversations to happen by being available.

The God of the Universe put in motion a plan so bold and amazing when Adam and Eve messed up in the garden. He prepared for forgiveness, restoration, healing, peace, disruption, and a path forward for the whole world to be redeemed.

Just as we set the table for Christmas, the Lord set the table for the most amazing Christmas ever to be written and told about in history.

He used a young teen, a virgin, to showcase his majesty and power to the world.

Encouragement

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas season, and what causes you some anxiety? Is it the conversations around the table or meeting someone new?

The God of the Universe came to bring hope to a dark world and transform your life and mine for all eternity.

Challenge

There are thirteen days until Christmas morning; I encourage and challenge you to write one thing you are grateful for each day. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph or sentence. It can be one word.

For example, you could write:

  • Spouse
  • Work
  • Friends
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Church

You get the picture. On Christmas morning, pull out your list and thank God for whatever is on your list. When you are around the dinner table or making memories by the tree, you can be reminded of the blessings of the names, faces, or things written on your Christmas gratitude list.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for sending Your Son to be our rescuer. We need you, and we need your blessings and grace each day. Please bring to mind a grateful moment each day that we can add to our gratitude Christmas list. Please guide us and strengthen us this Christmas season. Amen!

Footnotes

  1. Luke 1:39-42 ↩︎

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About

Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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