“Is it Christmas yet?”
I found myself wondering that question this week, not with the usual excitement, but with weariness. I have a few more gifts to wrap, a few more cards to send, a few more things to ready for traveling, another viewing of Mickey’s Christmas special (thanks to my son). So what I really mean is, “Can’t Christmas already be here so I can put this busy season behind me?”
As I’ve struggled with ongoing sickness the past couple of months, Christmas is overwhelming, but not for the right reasons. It’s forced me to slow down and choose very carefully what I actually had the capacity to do. Frequently, I’ve overestimated myself and have been left feeling sad by the things I just don’t have the energy (or honestly, enough desire) to push through and do.
I want the shows and lights and concerts! I even want the yearly trip to see Disneyland all decorated for the season, giant crowds and all. This season feels so empty without all of the usual celebrations. When I look at the Christmas story, I read about the angels serenading the shepherds and think, “That’s what I want!”
“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:13, 14)
But as I reread the Christmas story this year, I noticed the shepherds’ response in the next verse, “When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about’” (Luke 2:15).
They weren’t distracted by the heavenly concert. They didn’t stop to wait for an encore. They weren’t so busy taking selfies to post on Instagram that they missed half the show. They recognized the angels’ song was a response to the eternity-changing news delivered that night, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:11).
The Lord had entered our world and his presence could be seen. Now that is something worth singing about and seeking out!
This news is still true today. My Savior, my King, my Lord is here. My world is much smaller this year, but Jesus still enters in to comfort and walk with me through this season. I don’t have to make ever bigger celebrations to find him; he found me.
His presence can still be seen in transformed lives (including mine) every day of the year. No matter what I’m “missing”, as long as I see him, I’m not missing the point of all the celebrations, which leads me to celebrate with joy in the ways I can.
I pray for more of that joy in this season for all of us. May each of us have a deep, personal sense of the reality that Jesus draws near to us.