As I plugged the cord into the light socket, the tree lit up with sparkling white lights. My five year old stared in amazement and said, "Oh Mom it's BEAUTIFUL! I love it so much!" My seven year old grinned his boyish grin and my three year old chimed in, "Yeah, it's SO pwetty!" Gathered together, we stood in silence and I looked at the beaming faces of my three kiddos. What I saw was wonder and awe.
I know full well that this time of year doesn't elicit wonder in many of us adults. We may be hurting or fearful due to a new situation. We may be annoyed by the commercialism and fatigued by the work of putting up the tree, baking goodies, shopping for a mass of family and friends and wrapping one gift after another. We may be traveling to see family, spending more money than we would like, and spread thin with all the year-end events and deadlines. The whole Christmas season seems more like that tangled mess of multi-colored Christmas lights and we simply are not struck with awe anymore. Sure, we play along - usually for our kids - but we are secretly counting down the days until December is over and things can get back to normal. Of course, I know those Grinch-like feelings very well. But regardless of what our life may look like today or what our feelings may be at this moment, it has nothing to do with celebrating the event that changed the world. Even if our emotions are wanting to keep that tree in the attic or canceling the order of Christmas cards, that shouldn't stop us from dancing to the hymn of Christmas. Oh friend, might I encourage you not to lose the wonder....
Take a moment and dwell on the Christmas story
- the real story we so often lose sight of -
because there is wonder and grandeur in the details.
She took quick, short gasps as each contraction hit. She had never experienced this kind of pain before. Her stomach tightened and she gritted her teeth, trying to breathe through each wave as sweat dripped down onto the dirt floor. She thought back through the last nine months and remembered the moment Gabriel had appeared. A regular day in Nazareth was turned into a life-changing, world altering, history-making event that can only be described as wondrous! Now she, an ordinary girl, a virgin who had not yet known the touch of a man was here with a swollen belly, ready to push the long-awaited Messiah from her womb into the world. The barn smelt of hay and waste and she could hear the sounds of cows mooing and the clucking of chickens in the corner. She clenched her fists in raw agony and bore down as the express image of God Almighty came forth and was wrapped in rags and laid in a feeding trough. The Highest became the lowest and the Holiest became a babe birthed in water and in blood.
A mere mile away sheep covered a grassy field. The stars were sprinkled against the black sky and all that could be heard was the bleating of lambs and the quiet chattering amongst shepherds. Suddenly the door to Heaven was opened and a bright light burst through the night sky, The shepherds, frightened and confused, looked up and watched in shock as angelic beings too numerous to count appeared and began to raise their voices in song, gloriously heralding the arrival of God upon the earth. The shouts and exclamations of Heaven itself echoed down to ordinary people in the dead of night. In utter amazement and joy, the shepherds left their sheep and ran through the field, down the dusty road into the little town of Bethlehem and saw the Creator and Ruler of all the earth in the form of a child.
After 400 years of silence, when Israel had grown weary of the familiarity of the prophecies, the greatest wonder ever seen was placed before their eyes. The shepherds ran faster than our Black Friday dashes. The kings of the east journeyed farther than our holiday family trips. The angels sang louder than our Church Christmas programs. Heaven and nature rejoiced and reveled in the miracle that would set people free.
Because, you see, it wasn't a mere demonstration of power when the Creator became a creature robed in flesh. It wasn't for our entertainment when the Godhead so loved that He gave Himself in the form of a tiny, helpless baby boy. It was for our rescue from sin and ruin and for the glory of His own name that Jesus left Heaven for humanity. You may be bored with the monotony of the holiday season but let me encourage you to ditch the irrelevance of the Elf on the Shelf and ignore the long lines at the mall fighting over the holiday scented candles and, instead, gaze at the majesty of the manger scene.
The Everlasting Father gave His Son to grow into a man and be
the sacrifice for a race born into hostility and condemnation.