This past Monday morning, I had the privilege of sharing a short Christmas Devotion with my wife’s M.O.P.S. group. So I wanted to share it with you.
The context of the devo was; a room full of moms, all with little children. But I think the point is applicable for all of us.
Oh, one last thing. The MOPS theme these year involved the use of games. The game for this past Monday was UNO. That hopefully will explain the UNO references.
The UNO in Christmas.
The game of UNO. There are not many games I like to play. But UNO, UNO is a game that I will play. UNO has a little bit of everything in it: chance, luck, timing, strategy, suspense, drama, highs, lows, and the opportunity for revenge. The game of UNO is all about being the first one to play all your cards before every one else, then screaming UNO!
But it all starts with the hand your dealt. The dealer passes 7 cards to each player. As soon as you pick up your cards you begin thinking, planning and strategizing hoping and dreaming that you might be the UNO. The one.
Then the game begins, and one by one, players lay down their cards. You start with a green 4. Then a green 2. Then a color change, red 2. Then red 7. Red 6. Then a gotcha’ card, a red Draw Two. Yes, glad I’m not that guy. Another red 2, then a blue 2. And on and on the game goes. You play through your strategy, dodging the draw cards, changing colors to benefit your game. One by one you lay your cards down until there are only two cards left in your hand. You’re almost there.
Your attention goes to the player next to you. And you find yourself hoping that they don’t get you with a color change. The card up is blue. You have two blues. You’re so close… Yes! They lay down a blue 5. With great excitement you lay down your second to the last card, a blue 8. UNO! One round. All you have to do is make it one more round. Blue 2. Blue 5. Blue 8. No! Green 8. Green 6. Yellow 6. Two people left. Blue 6. Yes! One more player. All they have to do is lay down a blue. Numbers no longer matter. You have one card left. Then like slow motion, the card is played. UNO! But that’s not your voice. And that’s not the card you need. You look at your hand, then look at the stack of discarded cards. It’s your worse nightmare. Staring back at you is a Wild Draw Four. The king of the cards…
But isn’t that how life sometimes is?
The hand is dealt and its game is on
Monday morning, A MOPS Monday. The kids are off to school with relative ease, and you’re on your way to the thing you look forward to the most, MOPS. It’s a great morning. The food is good, the fellowship is great, and the encouragement is enough to last you, well, long enough for you to get home to find the phone message. It’s the school nurse. Your number 2 is sick and you need to pick him up. The ugly reverse card is played.
But no worries, you can do this. The afternoon moves along fairly uneventful. And by the end of the day, you’re able to play two cards.
Tuesday morning starts earlier than usual, as someone plays the Draw Two card while you find yourself cleaning up the mess from a 4:30 wake up call. Now #2 and #3 are sick. This was not how you wanted to spend the week before Christmas. But you are mighty mom, so you press on, because thats what moms do. You make it through the day, amidst the calls for mommy, and some how manage to lay down a one more card.
Believe it or not Wednesday is a good day. The kids are feeling better. You were able to finish the Christmas cookies. The last of the gifts have arrived, thanks UPS. And the Christmas Cards finally hit the mail. You lay down two cards.
Thursday starts great, but quickly spirals out of control. It’s the dreaded Wild Draw Four. The mechanic calls. You need $1200 of work on a vehicle that is only worth $800. But, you pull it together enough to get through the day even getting the kids in bed a little early. All you want now is to spend some adult time want with your hottie hubby. But he plays the Skip Card because the Steelers are playing Thursday night football. Thursday Football? When did that start up? The perfect way to end the less then perfect round. You played no cards.
Friday. We’re almost there. But if you’re doing the math, you still have 7 cards in you hand. 2 blue, 3 yellow, 1 red, and a wild card. It’s time to get serious.
So we take control of your day and start laying cards down, dodging the skips, the reverses, and the draw twos. You accomplish your biggest goal, the house is cleaned and ready for your Christmas Eve dinner guests. You even managed to get more than half of the dinner prep done. All three of the yellow cards go down. It was a great day.
Saturday starts with a red card. Perfect start. You lay down your red. 3 cards left and it’s almost Christmas. No matter what happens today, you are going to win this game. Two blue and the wild. The dinner was going great, at least till number 3 spills the full pitcher of drink across the dinner table. Bodies go flying as your guests jump out of the way of the oncoming Tsunami. But you don’t panic. You play the wild card, turning the color back to blue. You will win this game no matter the cost.
Later that night…
The Christmas Eve service was beautiful. The kids were angels. It couldn’t have been any better. You place your first blue card down. UNO! One card left. You’ve got this. One more round. If you can make it through this round, you will win the Christmas you imagine in your mind. You just have to play the final blue card…
Now I hope that your week is not like this one. But chances are, something will happen this week that will threaten the perfect Christmas image that you have dreamt up. I mean, nobody puts more work into preparing for Christmas than you do. You’re the mom. It’s in the unwritten, “How To Be A Great Mom!” manual under the heading, “How to Make Holidays Great.” The pressure you feel is intense. Everything that happens this week pushes you closer to Sunday morning.
But if we are just playing the game, trying to make it to the end, determined to win and be the UNO, then we miss the UNO that’s at the heart of the Christmas celebration.
You see, it’s not about the win, that is, the perfect gifts that lead to the smiling faces and happy kids. It’s not about that last blue card you hold in your hand, guaranteeing you the perfect day. It’s not even about the game, because Monday morning will come, you’ll be dealt another hand, and game will start all over again, only this time, the kids will be home because school is closed.
What does matter is what the Angel said to the shepherds in the field that night.
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”
Those two sentences hold the greatest message ever told. Jesus Christ is born. He is the Messiah, the One, the UNO, that God promised to send way back when Adam and Eve played the first round of the game.
Every day we strive to play the game in a way that gets us closer to the win. But the reality is, the game has already been won. And guess what. We can celebrate the with winner because this message is for all of us. Jesus Christ was born for us.
I don’t know many of you. I don’t know the skips, the draw fours, the reverses, and the wild cards that you will face. What I do know is that you have choice. Will you stress yourself out in your attempt to win, or will you recognize the One who has already played the game in your place. He bore your sins upon the cross, suffered all that you would have suffered, so that you can hear the angels message and rejoice, because the Savior has been born to you.
Can we pray together.
Share a gospel message.