Over the past several days, I have heard my children comment several times with some glee, ‘Five days till Christmas!’ It is evident that they are looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year, as in years past. I recall when I was about the same age in the weeks leading up to Christmas there was an anticipation in the air. There were a lot of things happening, including looking for gifts, my mother making cookies and candy, decorating the tree and the house, Christmas music playing on the stereo, a Christmas party at school and getting ready for break. There were a lot of things that brought excitement to the season. Eventually everything culminated with a candlelight Christmas eve service at church, and coming home to many gifts under the tree for me and all my siblings. At times, the anticipation and activity of things leading up toward the Christmas celebration may have been just as exciting as Christmas day. What are your favorite memories of the Christmas season as a child?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
As we grow up, take on more responsibilities and have our own children to care for, some of the anticipation and joy of the Christmas season is replaced by stress and worry about getting everything done that you need and want to do. I’m not even sure how my mother did all that she did when I was growing up with my five siblings, or how my wife juggles all the things she does today. Eventually we may find a balance between our daily responsibilities, gift shopping, and preparing for all the extra things leading up to Christmas, but we should still find times of joy and celebration in the midst of the busyness, shouldn’t we? Do you still look forward to the time you will spend with your family and friends, or even in quiet moments alone as you prepare for and celebrate Christmas this year?
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
Even if you grew up in the United States in a secular family and never attended church, its likely that you celebrated Christmas a little each year, or were exposed to others who did, and the name of Jesus was not foreign to your ears. Even to those of us who grew up in a church, Christmas afforded opportunities to create special memories with our families and hopefully drew us closer to the true God of the bible as well. Maybe you were in awe that a newborn baby could be the fulfillment of such anticipation for so many people for so many years, but it has. I am often reminded of the story of Simeon, who had anticipated the arrival of the Messiah as much as anyone else in history. May we have an ounce of that hope and joy that he experienced as we also look forward to the celebration of the arrival of Jesus again this year and every day with us.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. Luke 2:25-33
Yours in Christ,