MTL Christmas - Page 66

And it’s even more than that—Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody—or your soul. And the other Holiday Tempter—closely related—is the Holiday Tempter of Expectations: My expectations that our Christmas will look like this— and the kids will be perfect and we will live this beautiful Christmas card Christmas—and the dog pukes on the back step and my husband forgets the one ingredient for the cookies I need to make for the cookie exchange and the boys just keep bickering with each other— and the realization comes is this: Expectations can kill relationships. They can kill my relationship with God, with my family. Expectations can kill holidays. The beginning of joy is always thanksgiving And if Expectations kill holidays—then I fight that Expectation Tempter with constant gratitude. Daily writing down blessings, gifts. Beginning the holidays, every day, not with my to-do list—but with my gratitude list—and keeping that gratitude list out and present. I wonder if this is why Thanksgiving comes before Christmas—that we begin the holidays with gratitude. We must begin everything with thanksgiving, gratitude. The beginning of joy is always thanksgiving. So that’s it: The two tempters of Comparison and Expectation and being wooed back into the true story by daily giving The Great Giver thanks giving. What is the Jesse Tree, and what does it have to do with Christmas? The name “Jesse Tree” is taken from Isaiah 11:1, in which Jesus is announced as a shoot of grace, coming up from the cut down stump of Jesse’s tree, Jesse being David’s father. Because when you open the pages of Scripture to read of Christ’s coming, of this first advent, before you ever read of the birth of Jesus, you always have the genealogy of Jesus. It’s the way Christmas unwraps really: Before you have a Christmas tree—you have Christ’s family tree. If you don’t come to Christmas through Christ’s family tree and you come into the Christmas story just at the Christmas tree— it’s hard to fully understand the miracle and meaning and context of Christ’s coming. Without the genealogy of Christ, the limbs of His past, the branches of His family, the love story of His heart that has been coming for us since before the beginning—how does Christmas and its tree stand? Its roots would be sheared. 66 MTL Magazine / For more from Ann Voskamp, check out Unwrapping the Greatest Gift on As you read each of the 25 devotional readings in The Greatest Gift, one for each day of December, starting on December 1, each highlighting a Scripture passage from the Old Testament and Jesus’ family line, right from Genesis to God-in-the-flesh, there is an accompanying ornament to hang that day, so that you have a tree telling the story of Jesus’ coming right from the beginning, a grace tree, a gospel tree—the full love story of Christmas. Related Products: Waiting Here for You Louie Giglio, $9.99 The Journey Adam Hamilton, $10.99 The Jesse Tree Geraldine McCaughrean, $14.99