I’m not one of those totally against the way we do Christmas in our culture.
I enjoy taking time to bless our family and friends with gifts.
I like the emphasis on putting up decorative lights at night—that’s a powerful symbol of Jesus coming into the increasing darkness of the world.
I really enjoy the gatherings around food and special events.
And I love the additional church services and seasonal music!
Sure it’s a bit crazy for a few weeks, but much of it is driven by our desires to give, to connect and to celebrate. Those are good things.
Still, as we plunge headlong into the holidays, many forces conspire to pull us away from the real meaning of Christmas:
Searching & searching for new gift ideas for those people “who have everything;”
Being plagued by the post office warning “mail early or else;”
Deciding on a Christmas card list (“Let’s see, did they send us a card last year?”)
Losing that favorite recipe;
Trying to make all the parties, pageants, concerts & community appearances;
Trying to make good memories;
Feeling the sting of loneliness, loss and/ or disappointment that is magnified during these days.
It’s easy to lose sight not only of the new life that came to Bethlehem, but the new life faith births in us through Christ.
When you stop and consider, however, that “first Christmas” was pretty chaotic, too: Mary and Joseph’s untimely (from a human viewpoint) journey to Bethlehem, the “housing challenge,” the birth of a child, and the coming of shepherds to offer special greetings… It was a bit much.
And in the midst of it all we read these wonderful words: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NIV).
Treasure—See the value of every moment, every interaction, every opportunity– and even every challenge.
Ponder—Give yourself the gift of some time to reflect. Ponder conveys the meaning of thinking deeply about something, of giving something more thoughtful consideration.
How do we resist the many forces that conspire to pull us away from the real meaning of Christmas? Taking time to treasure experiences while they are happening, and to ponder them afterward – perhaps through journaling—can go a long way to enriching every day, especially this holy season.