Christmas chaos is an all too common experience. December’s calendar fills up with events, parties, travel, children’s programs, gift preparation, feasts, and family gatherings. More often than not, by the day after Christmas, we are ready to collapse from exhaustion. That is one reason I observe the Christian season of Advent. Slowly, beginning four Sundays before Christmas, the season unfolds, each week a gentle reminder that we are marking the most momentous occasion in human history- when God entered Creation as a tiny Baby, a mysterious and miraculous coming that announced a new era and made possible a whole new way to know the Lord.
Let’s not allow bright lights and festivities to steal the Moment! Let’s not substitute fun for substance!
There is a little phrase buried in the middle of Luke’s narrative of the Nativity that speaks of Mary’s response to the birth of Jesus, the angelic announcement, and the visit of shepherds with the wondrous tale. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, NIV) Treasured and pondered– the words that arrest me. She took time to store the moments in memory and revisited them often. Why? Because they were precious, sweet memories for a mother? Perhaps. More importantly, I believe she treasured and pondered knowing that His birth was the pivotal moment of her life, the reason for her very existence- to bear the Son of God. I wonder if, as she stood 33 years later at the foot of the gruesome cross where her Son hung dying, if she retreated to that Holy Night and drew comfort from the knowledge of God’s plans?
I encourage you to take time for silence in the days leading up to Christmas. Before you laugh at the suggestion as you look over your calendar, please consider that God’s gift cannot be found in the mall, on Amazon.com, or even on the songs playing on the radio. Yes, the props of Christmas play a part in our celebration, but the love of God shown to us in Christ Jesus will only be found in the quiet, where His Spirit can whisper to us about the wonder, the mystery of the Incarnation (God in flesh)! Treasure and ponder this fact – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV)
Through the years, one of my favorite gatherings of Christians is on Christmas Eve. In the church where I serve, we make it a relatively simple liturgy of Scripture readings, carols, and sharing the Holy Meal – all with the hope that our celebration will not intrude on the momentous message – “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12, NIV)
I pray for you a most blessed Christmas, a renewal of love for the Savior, a re-centering of faith on Him, and a recommissioning to service of the Baby of Bethlehem, now the Lord of Heaven and Earth, our King!
Joy to the World,
The Lord is Come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heav’n and nature sing!
CoffeeBreak will be back next week, Lord-willing! I am taking my own counsel and hope to spend time treasuring and pondering the mystery of the Word become Flesh.