. . . an she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger . . . (Luke 2:7)
Over the centuries, Christmas has become a very complicated celebration.
On that first Christmas, the Gift was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in an animal’s feeding trough. Today, Christmas is wrapped in so many layers of emotion, expectation, and exasperation, it can be a real challenge to get through it all to the Gift.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, and we’re very aware of it, it seems. Every year, many of us say we’re going to focus on the real meaning, not get caught up in the maelstrom, etc., etc., etc. The people who say this are almost universally women, because women feel responsible for Christmas. We’re the ones who make it or break it for those most important to us; we’re pretty sure about that. So, despite all our good intentions to the contrary, to some degree we still get pulled in — again.
Christmas has moved radically from simply receiving the gift of Jesus, to making the observance a gigantic Do-It-Yourself project. If I spend enough; bake, decorate and entertain enough; do enough for enough worthy causes, then I can build a “good” Christmas. That, in turn, will enable me to answer truthfully when people ask me later if I had a “good Christmas.”
I notice that no one seems to ask if I had a “God Christmas.” So this year, I’m making an early resolution. I want to respond to that post-Christmas inquiry with more appropriate, if less socially-acceptable, answers. I want to say, “I had a God Christmas, thank you.” What did I get this year? “I unwrapped Jesus again and it was wonderful,” I want to reply.
I’ll share the fellowship of family and friends, and enjoy the songs and special services of the season. But, God being my helper, I want to unwrap again the profound simplicity of God made flesh; knowing exactly what it would mean for Him, but coming anyway because of what it would mean for me. Jesus unwrapped — the naked, unadorned, undeserved gift of my salvation.
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