Christmas. What comes to mind when you think of…Christmas? I seem to go through some sort of emotional metamorphosis every year during this season. It starts on November 1st, when I run into Walmart to grab a few things (including the leftover Halloween candy that I’m hoping is on sale, because my kids have already put a restraining order on me to stay away from theirs), and THERE. IT. IS………….an explosion of red and green, tinsel, garland, lights, and trees. In a panic, I run home, plop myself on the couch, turn on the television, and eat my discounted Halloween candy. But it’s even on the television. It’s ESPECIALLY on the television; endless commercials with jingle bell-type songs with all kinds of Christmas gift ideas we all need but don’t really need. It is overwhelming, and frankly, it puts me in a bad mood. This is frustrating. Because I love Christmas. I really, really love Christmas.
At the very basic level, Christmas is about God’s love. We all know this: “For God so LOVED the world that He sent His one and only Son…” He sent Him—to US. You and me. God saw us from the very beginning and said, “THEM….I will send my Son for THEM!” And eventually, even in the midst of the chaos and hysteria our culture creates during this season (even as early as November 1st), I am reminded of the Christ Child, the fulfillment of the promise made by our loving God.
I have a very vivid memory of Christmas when I was about 4. We had just come home from our church’s Christmas Eve service. I was in our living room. All the lights were off, except the Christmas lights. I remember Christmas music playing in the background. I was looking at the nativity scene my mom had placed around the mantel of the fireplace. I had this feeling, or maybe just the realization, that I wasn’t alone…that I was very loved…that I was safe and secure. There was a great anticipation inside of me. It was more than just believing in a large, old man bringing me gifts through our chimney. As an adult and believer, I know exactly why I felt the way I felt in that moment. I truly believe God introduced His Spirit to me that evening. He pursued my heart, even at 4 years old, and made Himself known to me.
There is a great mystery that surrounds the Christmas story. I have always been fascinated with the thought of the Christ Child…fully God, fully man…coming to earth as a baby from His throne in heaven. The angels understood the significance of this event. This was the coming of Immanuel…“God with us.” All of creation had been waiting for this moment since the beginning of time: God reconciling Himself to His beloved. You can hear the anticipation in Gabriel’s words to Mary: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Friend, can I just encourage you today? You are highly favored, and the Lord is with YOU! This is the true gift of Christmas: the gift of God’s presence. There’s nothing we have to do or say to invoke the presence of God. He is here, just as He promised to His disciples. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The question is: do we live our lives as if we are standing in His presence in every moment, or do we convince ourselves that we are alone? Or even worse: “I can do this on my own.” Isn’t this what our culture tries to tell us to do during this season? And for that matter…EVERY season? No wonder we are so stressed out!!
The Scriptures paint a picture of Mary of being humble, trusting, and pretty much NOT STRESSED OUT. Although there’s a good chance she had a well-deserved freak out session at some point between Gabriel’s appearance and the birth of the Savior, her response speaks volumes: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?! Remembering, pondering, treasuring up all the things God has done for us?
My goal this Christmas is 3-fold: Anticipate the promise, accept the gift of His Presence, and ponder these things in my heart.
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels.
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him…Christ the Lord.”
This post was written by Allison House. To read more about her, click here.