Well, here we are. Christmas once again. Time for me to get in the shower and hustle over to the Christmas Eve service at church. I have a cold and my head feels like it is full of snow. Or snot. But no matter….the holidays are still steeped in joy. All because of that wee King born in a manger, oh so many years ago.
We lose track of that, don’t we? Sometimes we make this holiday season so hard and it is so simple. A birth that would change our hearts and souls. An unlikely group of visitors-rich and poor- in a place that would never have been considered an appropriate birthing site. All of this unfolding at a time when the census made Bethlehem seem like the Indiana State Fair. A complicated mess, when you think of it.
But life is messy. New life, especially. I have tried to wrap my head around delivering a child in a stable/cave/barn and I can’t get past the sticky prickly straw. And no trained medical staff. I mean, yeah, I did the natural childbirth thing with four kids, so I get the no epidural protocol…but there’s just something about a young girl being attended by a man who is trying to process pregnancy by the Holy Spirit plan. That puts a whole lot pressure on those involved.
But I am a Christian and I don’t doubt a word of the Christmas story. I get it. I live it. I love it. But when we go through the motions of this season, we think perfection. Of greeting card loveliness and Hallmark movie endings; of warmth, tenderness, and a star’s bright light. Of love so rich and rampant that hate hovers at the outermost regions of our lives.
Heck…in that world we don’t need a Savior. We don’t need second chances and redemption. It is because of darkness that we are sent a great light. We are both rich and poor in spirit, depending on the day. Makes great sense that simple, poor shepherds and wise rich men gathered at the manger. This is all of us at various stages of our lives.
We need that babe in the manger, of simple parents and a divine plan. As our news feeds and headlines shout of slaughter, greed, and evil too heinous to comprehend, once a year we stop and peer into that stable. We pause, reflect, and take our own personal census. We gaze skyward at stars and realize how rich we are, as we pull our little lambs closer to our hearts. And maybe we accept the gift that we have been given…no bows or pretty wrapping, just a little guy, swaddled and silent with salvation and hope within those tiny fists. I would have rushed out to see him. How about you? Every year someone asks me what I want for Christmas. I give them the ‘Sears Clearance Aisle’ standard response. But in my heart I know what I want and need: to make it to the manger.
You may be asking this Christmas: what is the world coming to?
But I would rather say: look who is coming to this world!
Don’t miss His coming! Merry Christmas.