I know it’s a bit late to still be writing about Christmas, but Robin found some notes I had written in 2011. I don’t know where they’ve been hiding for six years, but I thought I would share them anyway and hopefully this will “wrap” up and put a bow on Christmas 2017. The title is simply “Christmas Thoughts 2011”.
“It’s Christmas Eve; it is quiet. The tiny white lights dot the Virginia Pine tree and the ornaments hang pretty much as they have for many years now. The cardboard bells with pictures of a little Katie and a little Rachel, the Hallmark Cinnamon Bear collection, the dogs’ ornaments, and many places we’ve visited over the years. Williamsburg, Va., Mt. Vernon, Las Vegas, Jamaica, Hawaii,… it’s a long list and I couldn’t remember all the places. And of course at the top of the tree she sits proudly with a light in each hand proclaiming the Messiah’s birth- the white angel. Every year I wonder if she will still be in one piece after enduring the grueling summer heat and humidity but she hasn’t failed yet.
Much like the Christmas story itself she keeps on keeping on. And the story- the greatest story- is sung and read again and again. We know it so well… I fear we know it so well we often hustle through Christmas without really thinking about the magnitude and the impact of the story.
At various times we’ve thought about the story from the different perspectives of the people involved. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, shepherds, Magi, angels , the inn-keeper, Herod and his theologians who told him where Christ was to be born. There could not be a more universal representation of mankind than in this story.
The insiders who knew what was going to happen- Mary and Joseph. They had the word first-hand in separate revelations from God’s messengers. The despised and rejected shepherds. No one wanted to associate with them yet the story was revealed to them before anyone else by the heavenly host; and the first missionaries were created. The wealthy and knowledgeable Magi from the East; they traveled long and hard to bring their presents to the Child. How much trouble do we have bringing our presents and gifts to Him? We give to others, which could be symbolic, but do we not feel we should be bringing something to Him as well? Those who “slept through” everything- the inn-keeper probably didn’t realize the Savior of the world was lying in a manger in a barn.
The details of this story are given to us by three independent writers with their own perspectives BUT their detail shows that this was not a random event. The timing, the location, the people, all carefully orchestrated, meticulously planned, and flawlessly executed to provide THE way (the ONLY way) God’s rebellious creation could be reconciled with Him again.
Which leads us to the ornament you don’t see- but that we know is on the tree. The Christmas Nail hangs obscured in the greenery and lights reminding us that the story that is being told also includes a horrible and excruciating sacrifice about thirty years later. I almost said the story ended here, but it certainly does not. Just like it didn’t begin in the manger. The story is still unfolding every day, and we do celebrate the significant events that are the bedrock of our faith- the virgin birth, the death and resurrection of Christ. But maybe we should spend more time celebrating the joy of the journey.
And once again, as we gather around the manger this year, may we see the Child as He is- THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. “AND HE SHALL REIGN FOREVER AND EVER.””