I could hear my sister and cousin plotting as we ran up the stairs to get ready for our annual Christmas Eve play.
“Hey! You guys always get to be Mary … but I want to be Mary this year!” I yelled as I followed closely behind them.
My sister turned around just in time to catch a glimpse of my puppy dog eyes.
“Oh fine,” she replied. “I’ll be the shepherd.”
We spent the next 10 minutes dividing the remaining roles and preparing for our big curtain call. Then it was lights, camera, action. Time for the grandkids to act out the story of the birth of Jesus for the whole family to see. And for a grand finale, my gramma would bring out the “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake, thoughtfully topped with one candle to signify our one and only Savior’s birth.
Before any talk of presents. Before the hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Before the singing of Christmas carols. Before anything else, Christmas was and forever will be about Jesus in my family. And although traditions have changed somewhat since we were kids (we don’t do the play anymore, we just read the Bible instead) some traditions stay the same, like our treasured Jesus cake.
When I was growing up, it was pretty common for teachers to ask students to share their holiday traditions with the class. And while I used to be embarrassed to talk about the Jesus cake, today I’m proud of the unique tradition. In fact, it’s become one of my most favorite things about Christmas.
Last year, my husband and I couldn’t make it to my gramma’s Christmas Eve celebration, so I asked her to send me a picture of the cake in my absence. There’s something about preparing a cake for and singing to my Savior that brings me so much joy.
The world tries to give us a lot of reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t choose joy during the holiday season, but when we remember the reason for the season, our hearts can be continually full of joy no matter what.
Because Christ came down from heaven to live the life that you and I could never live — to be the perfect sacrifice that would redeem us from sin, sickness, sorrow, and all of the results of the curse (see Galatians 3:13). He didn’t have to come. But He did. And now, Emmanuel, God with us, lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We are never alone. We have been blessed with every blessing. We are free forevermore.
Beloved, don’t let the world or the god of this world try to shackle you this Christmas season. Your inheritance is not overwhelm, anxiety, disappointment, frustration or strife. Your inheritance is HIS FULLNESS. And in Him, there is fullness of joy.
Lauren is a national speaker, author and Bible teacher. The founder and president of She Found Joy, she is a passionate about helping others encounter Jesus in a way that refreshes their faith and fills them to overflowing with His love and joy. Lauren lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, Alex and their dog Reese.