A while back I shared a bit about my love-hate relationship with Christmas. Y’all, It can’t be a total mystery that there’s a spike in the common stress level from the mid- November through the end of the year.
I don’t wanna beat a dead camel but truth is, you don’t have to be a genius or a Christian to see much of what gets the most attention during this “most wonderful time of the year”, has absolutely nothing to do with the “Reason” for the season. But that’s not what this post is about.
AND while I can neither confirm nor deny that the “Elf on a Shelf” is an agent of
satan Santa (just kidding people), this is also not what this post is about.
A few years ago, I joined my friend Katherine for a week of Christmas spotlighting her Advent devotional. Then I told you about one of our favorite family traditions; baby Jesus in our stocking.
I’ve thought a lot about that these last few days. Because my house and halls are be-decked and stockings are hung by the woodstove with care, even though one of my three children won’t be home this year and another will be scarce. This is a first…and a definite foreshadowing of Christmases to come. (sigh)
I sat on my couch looking at the nearly-naked tree a few nights ago and I guess I was still long enough for it to catch up with me: it’s almost over. The years of lego-strewn floors and the excited (or not) squeals of knee-knockers running through the house…hormone-laden “expressions” coupled with other loud and exasperated “exchanges”….the years of scraping together what little we had to place what always seemed like way too much under the tree.
We’ve turned the corner into new territory.
So…for a night, I was a little sad. I’m ok now… it’s how it should be…even if it stings. We’ve done our “job” of setting TRUE Christmas before each of them, and now it’s time to stand back and watch the Truth take hold in their individual lives and bear it’s own glorious fruit.
However, a few of these more precious thoughts have kept me pondering in deeper waters over why we celebrate at all, the meaning behind the traditions we may choose to keep and what happens when there’s no one there to observe them with you.
I sat with my husband that night, so grateful for the space he gave me to spill the words, thoughts and tears all running together into his lap. Together we worked to sort them into little piles of “truth and not-truth” and then scraped away what didn’t belong.
What’s left is the realization that no matter how we choose to celebrate or mark this time of year– with advent wreaths, Christmas trees, festivities, choir specials, caroling, whatever; no matter what we choose to include…
if the celebration is not anchored in the heart of Christmas,
What can it mean otherwise? Why put up a tree, light a candle, set a creche or hang a dang thing? It struck deep; if what we do isn’t anchored to the heart of Christmas, and is instead tied to superficial things or even the presence of others, we’ll eventually find ourselves adrift and slightly lost on dark waters when (not if) things change.
What is this heart of Christmas? What are we anchoring ourselves to? Honestly, I missed it for years. I think it’s what most perplexes the unbelieving (and yet somehow still celebrating) world around us.
God gives us the answer through the answer He’s been giving ever since that night when, with no room in the Inn, the virgin Mary gave birth to her firstborn Son with Joseph by her side. Wrapping him in swaddling clothes they placed Him in the manger and named Him “Jesus”.
Yet, even this is not the heart of Christmas.
Certainly it’s a most miraculous part of it, but the fact is, Jesus, the Son of God, was only one of maybe hundreds…or thousands of babies born that night.
Fact is, the heart of Christmas was already beating before that night and had been since the beginning of time. God, the heart of Christmas, then summoned the angels, the shepherds and the wise men, just as He summons us now to “come and see” but not to stay there.. no:
“Go and tell.”
Go and tell…not only how this miraculous, God-sparked, angel-announced and star-marked baby has been born, but go and tell how, “unto us is born this day a SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2)
The heart of Christmas is anchored in the WHY of His coming ,which was not simply to be born so miraculously, so magnificently…but to die, saving those who believe and bridging the gap between us and God.
The heart of Christmas is found anchored three days past His sacrifice at the cross….at the stone-rolled-away, He-is-not-here, He has risen, empty tomb.
THIS is why we celebrate Christmas.
THIS is why we can have hope .
No matter what else is going on.
This GLORIOUS truth, their obedience and telling is why we know, can and must still tell today. Anchored in the heart of Christmas, we must consistently live and tell the whole story…the story of His coming, the story of WHY He came and what He did…and then, most importantly, we must live believing and telling of how Jesus is coming again.
Oh come to the manger and let us adore Him, Emmanuel–God with us. Pause, remember and celebrate His life on earth but don’t stay there—that’s only half way home.
Because Jesus didn’t come for a season. Oh no. He came for all eternity and that is why we can celebrate. We are a people who once walked in darkness, who’ve now seen this Great Light.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!