This Christmas season has been particularly tough for me. Whereas most three year olds are just starting to understand the concept of Santa, my three year old son is a long way from understanding Santa. Or getting excited about Santa. Or knowing that tomorrow is Christmas. His physical and cognitive delays are plenty and this time of year those delays are magnified. Then you add an extremely busy schedule with a very challenging career in healthcare during a time when we don’t have enough staff and those who remain on our team are absolutely exhausted and there is very little room for celebration. I’ve had to dig deep for any Christmas spirit. And if I’m honest, I’m tired of working hard to put on a happy face. I’m tired of digging.
Earlier in the week I sat in my office trying desperately to finish wrapping a little surprise for my leadership team. I ran out of time to go get any pretty wrapping paper so I found some plastic bags and literally reused tissue paper that I could mix and match to look “Christmas-y”. I had planned on getting the cutest bags with sparkly Christmas ribbon but I just didn’t make the time to go get all the gift wrappings - something always took priority over shopping for gift wrap. So I found some pre-cut ribbons that I had to tie together to even be able to tie a wimpy bow knot around the clear plastic bag. The gifts looked completely pathetic and I found myself tearing up over this silly gift wrap. And all of a sudden - I was overwhelmed with a thought. The first Christmas was in a barn - Jesus entered this world in a manger. Why am I crying over gift wrap? Or Santa recognition?
While they were there [in Bethlehem - see Luke 2:1-5], the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”
Manger is just a glamorized word for an animal trough. There were no sparkly ribbons or shiny gift wrappings or fancy bags - there wasn’t even Santa. Just a baby in a barn. Or a cave, there’s some scholarly debate if it was an actual barn. The presence of the manger and the nearby shepherds give us an indication that it wasn’t glamorous and probably intended for animals. And reflecting on the birth of Jesus I realized that if my “Christmas spirit” is contingent upon Christmas wrapping paper, putting up decorations and buying gifts, maybe I am missing the point. Why does that stuff make up my Christmas Spirit?
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
If our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace came to this earth in an animal trough and yet there still was tremendous glory surrounding the event - maybe my Christmas spirit should be rooted in the Glory of God and nothing else.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger”. Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
So as we all approach the Christmas holiday, may we remember the true reason for the season and find our Glory in nothing else but Jesus Christ. And THAT glory is something worth digging deep to find.
Christmas love and blessings,
Note: The opinions and feelings expressed in this blog are solely that of the author and does not in any way reflect the opinions of or represent any employer, organization or academic affiliation to whom the author may be associated with currently or in the past.
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.