Of all the things we want, what we want most is meaning.
Because in the midst of this season — you need Christmas for you too.
Because you’re tired of asking — Where did the wonder go?
Because this year, you’re desperate to hush the hurry & find the holy. To feel the reason to rejoice!
Because you don’t want to wake up Christmas morning — and feel like you somehow missed Him.
Come. This year can be different. That’s a gift you want — & He wants for you.
When I first read this, written by Ann VosKamp, my entire soul was crying out “YES!” Yes, I want more meaning! Yes, I want the wonderment of Christmas back! I don’t want to just consume Christmas, I want to experience it.
Can you believe there are just 12 days until Christmas? (I can’t! How has the month of December slipped by so quickly?!) Let’s count down these next 12 days together in encouragement and laughter and continue to be sensitive to Him in all of our moments leading up to “the big day” so that we don’t wake Christmas morning and wonder how we missed Him in all of it.
So, on this first day of Christmas, I am going to invite you to open up an early gift. (Those are always great, right?) This particular gift can begin to color your Christmas in an entirely different light.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14)
A baby is born, but not just any baby, a baby who injects peace and joy and love into a broken and hurting world. When the angels sang about peace on earth that first Christmas night I have to wonder if they had any idea what kind of promise they were making.
The Christmas expectation bar…it gets raised every year. The unique, one-of-a-kind, thoughtful gift that not only rivals, but tops last year’s. (And if you have to fight someone else for it, that makes it that much better.) Christmas dinner that looks like a banquet spread for royalty complete with a starched linen tablecloth and 263 piece table setting. Packages wrapped with paper and bows that coordinate not only with the tree (fresh cut and strung with 15,000 lights, of course) but the rest of the meticulously placed decorations. Baked goods (in bulk quantities) that look like they could be decorations themselves and disappear quickly at the hands of the kids while you wonder if they even tasted them. This time of year our thoughts tend to get set into fast-forward as do our feet and we have lists for our lists. (At least I do, I love lists!) This is why when I read VosKamp’s words I was ready to slam on the brakes.
Christmas has become a watered down holiday that starts at Halloween and ends for so many people anti-climatically in an exhausted heap on Christmas morning. The world today is a fast-paced, immediate gratification, need, need, need, bigger, newer, shinier place. But at Christmas, with a soundtrack featuring Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, I can close my eyes and picture my Norman Rockwell painting of Christmas. But the reality is more often a fighting, noisy, grouchy, too-much-to-do-not-enough-time production that stretches our patience and our bank accounts, accompanied to the tune of Dominic the Christmas Donkey. (How is that even a Christmas song by the way?) So how can we break through the chaos and the noise of this season and rediscover the wonder?
CF Richardson said, “If peace be in the heart, the wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty.” Christmas is kind of like that wild winter storm but if we have peace in our hearts, Christmas, even in all of its demanding chaos, with the baking, and the wrapping, and the Santa line, and the kids all hopped up on Christmas spirit and sugar, and the out-of-town-family can be beautiful. The key is peace. And peace is found on this night, wrapped in swaddling cloths, surrounded by farm animals, lying in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. Is that what we do sometimes? Have we hung a no vacancy sign on our lives, whether or not we even realize it in our busyness and self-sufficiency? Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the obligatory visit to the manger, most often it happens on Christmas eve, but is it just a short layover between dinner and Santa or is it something more?
I love Christmas, I love the traditions, the baking, the decorations, the pretty packages and presents, I love Santa. (I may even love the chaos at little bit.) I am not suggesting that we remove those things from our celebrations. If anything think about how much more beautiful they would be when infused with peace and a deeper purpose to the season. Peace on earth, come to us. If you find yourself stressed out, and in search of the ever elusive peace we sing about, then I would venture to say that you have hung that no vacancy sign. It is so easy to get caught up in doing Christmas the way the world tells us Christmas should be done and lost in the expectations that we put on ourselves to create the perfect holiday, that we don’t spend time kneeling at the manager, allowing ourselves the gifts of peace.
We desperately need the wonder of Christmas again — and the miracle of real change. And it can start right here in the midst of the crazy with peace. Peace that extends beyond Christmas day into our families, our marriages, our jobs. Sometimes it feels like we are engaged in a great battle and all we want is a break, an opportunity to say “Time out!” so that we can catch our breath before re-engaging, especially during craziness of the holidays.
Max Lucado says, “We cannot have the peace of God until we have peace with God.” Looking for peace without God is like trying to swim upstream, it is exhausting, a constant battle. We can’t fight our way to peace; it’s not something you “do.” This peace, a lasting heartfelt peace, is a gift from God.
“For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, Peace…