“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  Matthew 23:27-28

We have a basket on our dining room table that holds all the Christmas cards we got over the holidays and throughout the year we pray for each family (when we remember).  As I was putting the cards into the basket a week or so ago I was kind of annoyed by them; everyone looked so perfect.  Perfect kids, perfect matching outfits, perfect hair and even perfect scenery.  Any of us who have taken a family picture knows that the hour leading up to picture time looks like the exact opposite of that final product doesn’t it?  Yelling at the children not to mess their hair up, telling them to quit fighting and to smile naturally and then, “cheese.”

We are a society that sees beautiful Christmas cards, pretty plastic people on magazines and TV and even at church on a daily basis.  Seemingly perfect people with perfect kids and husbands and perfect lives.  So when our child gets bad grades or struggles with anxiety or when our marriage has lost that lovin’ feeling or when we hate our jobs we think we are unusual.  We want to hide our flaws and imperfections and we become frustrated, weary and ashamed.  As I have been combing through the New Testament for my grad class I find it interesting that the men and women Jesus impacted the most were the broken, messy and needy people.  They weren’t the religious, the wealthy or the Christmas card family with matching outfits and hair bows.  The people Christ ministered to were the humble people whose lives were a mess.  The proud, the perfect and those unaware of their need for a Savior, those people were unaffected by Jesus’ message. 

I hope in the New Year I am a transparent, real and needy person.  Not the kind of needy person that tells you how bad my life is, but the kind of person who can, despite my mess, tell you how much Jesus has done for me (Luke 8:39).  I hope in the New Year I am less of a hypocrite and look more like Jesus; that I am more humble, more compassionate and more courageous.  I hope in the New Year you see that although my Christmas card might look satisfactory, you know that anything perfect in the Sandretti family comes from the generosity of Jesus Christ in our lives.  “Lord, thank you that you did not use perfect, beautiful, plastic people to do your work or to spread your message.  Thank you that you loved and helped those who humbly sought after you.  Help me in my brokenness to tell everyone I know of your transforming power in my life. Amen.”