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Tag: A Family Advent: Keeping The Saviour In The Season
By One Thing Alone How to Feel Awe and Wonder Again on Christmas Morning
In the middle of playing patty-cakes, my toddler stops short, awe and wonder written on her face, lips pursed in rapt attention, eyebrows knitted, finger stretched to the sky.
And then I hear it: a plane buzzing overhead.
A grin spreads wide across her face as the sound grows louder, her arm unwavering until the plane’s engines are drowned out by the hushed silence.
I chuckle with her dad as we lock gazes over her head.
“One day,” he says, “she’s going to get used to that sound. And she won’t care anymore.”
I nod, knowing he’s right, a mama’s sadness settling in. What wonder a little child holds for everything in sight, what thirst for noticing, touching, tasting, holding, listening.
I’m used to living next to an airport, so I rush through my day without hearing one airplane, let alone the dozens that fly overhead.
And it’s not just airplanes I don’t notice: it’s sparrow’s songs, daffodil’s colors, gorgeous sunsets, and children’s laughter.
Like an unimpressed teenager looking at a colorless prism, I discard the paperweight and rush on with my important business, while a toddler is more apt to pay rapt attention as she holds it up to the light and watches myriad colors dance on the walls, giggling with glee as all shades of the rainbow invade her space.
I yawn as I skim the passage, familiar with Jesus and the flannel-graph stories. I recite the details of the shepherds and the star, the wisemen and the manger as if they were a chemist’s report rather than a universe-altering miracle. I might even, in a moment of daft vulnerability, admit that I’m sometimes–dare I say it–bored with Jesus.
But don’t let that statement fool you for even a moment.
This says nothing about the magnificence of the Son of God.
It says everything about the calloused nature of a heart accustomed to Bible stories and safe Christianity.
When we allow God free access to our hearts, He changes them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, hearts that beat with spiritual life, hearts that warm at the very mention of Jesus’ Name, hearts that beat in sync with His.
When we allow God time with us, even in the busy season, we begin to see life with eyes wide open. We begin to notice the wonders all around us. We begin to see and savor Jesus Christ like we never did before.
And like a child with a glass prism, as we look more intently on Him, we will begin to notice even more beautiful layers to His character, more humbling displays of love, more lavishing acts of service. Our whole world will be bathed in the dancing colors of His Name. Everywhere we look we will notice Him.
And our hearts will beat anew with awe and wonder at the Name.
Don’t you just love this time of year? As soon as the turkey is cold, many people rush to the attic for the red and green boxes full of Christmas decorations. They tack lights to the eaves of their house and hang treasured ornaments on the branches of pine-scented trees. The smell of cinnamon and sugar plums rise from strategically placed candles. Ceramic Baby Jesus rests safely in an heirloom nativity on the entry table representing hope at Christmas.
Christmas decorating is not my specialty. My Christmas Pinterest board intimidates me. For starters, my house is small, leaving just enough room for a skinny Alpine tree, the kind usually found in groups of three because they are so puny. I don’t have a lot of surface area available for displays of Christmas villages and treasured nativities. We hang our favorite ornaments, set out the Fisher Price nativity, and call it a day.
This year, however, I got a vision while staring at my 1970’s fireplace. Large, dark gray stones are held in place by charcoal-colored mortar. The mantel piece is a dusty beam as dark as coffee. Since the chimney hasn’t been swept in our five years of residency, the fireplace is empty, void of any life (except maybe the unwelcome eight-legged variety).
My dark fireplace is a good representation of the condition of my heart. I feel the heaviness of the dark stones. I sense the cold of the empty firebox. Cobwebs of past hurts cling to the corners. Left untouched, I am without light, life, and hope.
I need light. I am desperate for hope.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shown. (Is. 9:2, ESV)
Jesus, the Light of the World, has come. He comes on beams of light, bringing hope to the darkness.
This is the message of the candle shining in the window and the star atop the tree. Hope calls out from the lights strung from rooftops making bright what was once lost in darkness.
When light is present, darkness cannot win. The glimmer of hope in our hearts means despair cannot get a foothold. Because of Jesus, sin and death are defeated.
The solution for darkness is light. The fix for our hearts is the hope Jesus brought with him to Bethlehem and fulfilled on the cross. With Christ, there is always hope.
I need this Advent season like a wildfire needs rain. The only cure for my dark heart is the One who brings light. The only answer for our hopelessness is Christ—the One who came and will come again.
The vision for my fireplace involves all things light—white containers, white branches, white candles, white lights. I want to break up the heavy stone with softness and fill the dark corners with light. It is quite a task for this decorating-challenged chick, but beauty waits on the other side of the effort.
What do you need this Christmas season? Whatever it is, that’s why Jesus came. He is our hope, our promise, our peace, our healing, our love, and our redemption. When the glimmer of Christmas lights catch your eye in the coming weeks, let that be a sign to you—a sign of hope for all that is and all that will be.
I kind of laughed as I thought about the phrase from the Christmas carol, “all is calm, all is bright.” And I immediately thought NOTHING IN MY HOUSE IS CALM OR BRIGHT.
But, isn’t that why He came? Emmanuel: God with us. He brought HOPE to the hopeless. He brought PEACE to the chaotic, broken hearts. He turns our MESS into a MESSAGE to proclaim for His glory. He truly is the GOOD NEWS the world seeks.
So, as I go about the rest of my CRAZY…I will remember that THIS is WHY He came. This mess, this chaos, these fights, the grumbling, the tears, the heartache, the guilt, the feeling that we will never get it right…and we won’t. HE WILL. And He already has.
And THAT is GOOD NEWS.
Sweet friends, no matter where you are today, Jesus is near. JESUS is the good news our hearts desperately need!! Cling to Him!
Yet, so often, we rush our way through the holiday season with little thought about Jesus, the gift of His life, or the significance of His love.
The wise men responded in immediate worship to the King. Matthew 2:10-11 says, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
We are called to “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness,” as it says in Psalm 29:2.
Remembering Christ does take diligence and awareness.
The season is busy, fast, and fun! So, set aside time now to develop meaningful traditions for the entire family.
Before the stockings are opened or the gifts unwrapped, before breakfast starts cooking or coffee is brewed, before anything happens on Christmas morning – start the day with family prayer.
What a way to align the mind to the true meaning of Christmas!
We’re quick to the gifts and the breakfast traditions, but we don’t seem to be as quick to pray or study the Bible. Try something different this year and start with prayer. You could even look up some Scripture passages to include in your prayer that specifically praise Jesus for the gift of his life.
Dear readers, I am not saying that we must forego the secular traditions, or wait until noon to open the first gift.
Rather, I am suggesting that we do some small things to include Jesus in each part of our day. Our lives have purpose and meaning because of his gift of love on the cross. This means our holiday has great meaning, too.