When I sat down to write this, that poem just kind of came to me. It was an “inspiration on an inspiration” triggered by the crazy Christmas rush. Yesterday, I was driving to the grocery store with my wife. We’re expecting some very, very special guests for Christmas this year and as we enjoy doing, we worked up a special but small menu. We were discussing the idea of gift giving and receiving when an old story came to mind. It’s a bit fragmented in my memory, but it got us talking about how, for many, Christmas is an exercise in missing the point – sometimes we get caught in it, too.
Years ago friends of my parents had gone through a lot of extra and extravagant gift buying. Acquiring items like gold watches, jewelry and fancy clothes, they went completely North Pole elf-wild in their efforts to celebrate the holiday. Christmas was at their house and in addition to the home made meatballs (which had raisins in them – that’s for another time) they wanted it to be special. Not wanting anyone to find the gifts, since the house was overcrowded and closet space was tight, they’d come up with a fantastic idea – put the presents in garbage bags and no one will be the wiser!
A few days later, after severe heartache, bitterness and trotting through stench, they left the garbage dump not having found one of the gifts they’d purchased. You see, in their clever game of hide-the-presents-in trash-bags, they didn’t think of the possibility of someone “mistaking” the garbage bags for, well, garbage. Out to the curb and into the truck they went never to be seen again. In their panic they shot off to the dump hoping to locate their treasure.
This story fueled our thinking about this, in all of our “Ho, Ho, Hos” we may need to say, “ Ho, Ho, No!” to the commercialism, gifts, preparations, fussing and even religious festivities when they push us away from deeply celebrating and embracing God entering this world.
Honestly, I continue to wrestle with that concept, God becoming man. That’s a mind blower if you ask me. If not for the bedrock historical facts surrounding Jesus and the foretelling of his life in the Hebrew Scriptures, I wouldn’t believe it for a moment. It’s a hard enough concept to grasp without all the visions of sugarplums and candy canes dancing and taking up room in our heads.
So, to not belabor my point, I really hope that both you and I will take a break from all the noise, noise, noise of Christmas that even upset the Grinch and stop to meditate on why we do this. Let’s spend time between now and Christmas night to draw nearer to Jesus, to at least remember that our hope isn’t in tomorrow, but in Christ in us today - and it's a struggle to keep it that way. That’s what the wise men were seeking. That’s our hope of glory. That’s the promise of Christmas. God cares enough for us that He would entrust the mystery of the ages to us.
Merry Christmas! Peace to you, all!