A Christmas Devotion – A Football Huddle to Remember


A football Huddle to Remember

A couple of years ago at Christmastime, I received a wonderful lesson from my five year old daughter.  It came unexpectedly and left me grappling with my own heart’s priorities through the whole season.  As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of this precious and simple lesson and hope it gives you, too, something to ponder.

One of my favorite things to have on display in December is a child-friendly manger scene.  I like to have one that the little ones can touch, so they can get to know the people who were so significant in the Christmas story. Well, Mia (2 years old at the time) loved to “rearrange” all of the figures (mostly pile them up), so I asked Gracie if she would mind setting them up again.  She joyfully got to work.

I glanced at her finished set up with curiosity and some dismay.  What was this?  All of the figures had their backs toward me with their faces turned inward, forming a little football huddle of manger people. Hmmm…it was not the pretty display I had envisioned and I almost said something to her.  I went over to investigate and looked over the shoulders of the little figures….Of course!  There in the center of it all was baby Jesus, the main attraction.  I smiled to myself, touched by Gracie’s innocence and her new set up.

As I went back to my kitchen sink, thoughts about my own conflicting priorities this time of year filled my mind.  I had to ask myself a few questions.

Is GOD really the center of my Christmas celebration?

Can I even quiet my heart down enough to sing a simple chorus like “Silent Night”, above the dull roar of the hustle and bustle that fills my days?

Most importantly, does the reality of Christ coming to earth grip my heart with awe as it should?

I wonder…

I wonder what God thinks of the way I spend my time….I wonder if I am as generously open-handed with other people, as He has been with me…I wonder if I carry with me the precious Christ of Christmas everywhere I go at Christmastime…

If so, where?

At church?  …I would say yes.

At home?…most of the time.

In the car in the midst of holiday traffic?…mostly.

At the mall or when I am buying gifts online?….hmmmm…I have to wonder.

Oh, how I want to be different!

One thing I am truly grateful for is Christmas music.  The tunes that fill our home this time of year draw me back to thoughts of Christ.  One of my favorites is “Joy to the World!”  Those words call me back to the most precious priority of Christmas:  “Let every heart prepare Him room!”  What a great call to us as mothers!

But remember, just as you can’t nicely put new clothes in your closet without parting with some things you no longer need, you can’t just stuff the Christ of Christmas into an already overloaded heart and schedule.   What needs to go so you can prepare Him room?

Is it Martha Stewart expectations?   Is it lies you are believing about the piles of gifts that your children need have a good Christmas?  Is it bitterness with a family member that you are holding on to?  Is it focusing on what you don’t have, instead of what you do?

I encourage you, Mom, throw out everything hindering you from cherishing the most precious message of Christmas, which is Emmanuel – “God with us!”  Do all you can to “prepare Him room” by settling your thoughts on the tender holiness of the season.

Always remember the saying,  “children sit at the feet of their mother’s heart”.  They are listening and watching.  May we always remember this sacred trust.

How I hope you gently take your wide-eyed children by the hand and lead them to the cradle of Christ.

As we close, remember MARY.  We can learn a lot from the mother of our Savior, as she cherished the reality of His arrival on earth. 

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:16-20

This has become my prayer at Christmas – and throughout the year – that I might be like Mary, pondering and treasuring up the wonder of the Savior – the whole point of Christmas!  I know that if I’m not careful, with all that calls out for my affections, I might miss it altogether.  

Like my little girl, let’s gather around Jesus, making sure we are giving Him center stage.  Looking back, I am so thankful for her childlike simplicity – and I wouldn’t change her football huddle manger for anything.

– Julie McGrath

Going Deeper…

Three words to take with you:

Quiet. – Make time for yourself to treasure up God’s love for you.  Sit near your tree and read the Christmas account in Luke 2.  Journal your thoughts of love and gratitude to God.

Speak. –  Speak to your children often about the wonder of God humbling himself and coming to earth as a BABY, born in a lowly manger – so that we could know His heart of love for us.  But don’t’ just leave Jesus in the manger!  Explain that this God-man would one day grow up and pay a terrible price for our sins.  But this was God’s loving plan to bring a way of forgiveness for those who repent of their sins and put their trust in Him. (Mark 1:15)

Serve.  – Find someone to serve this Christmas!  There are countless opportunities if you seek them out.  The sparkle of love and hope you bring to the heart of another may be all your family remembers in January.


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