Isaiah 7:9 ~ Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)
I used to love this time of year.
Before I grew up.
Before Christmas became synonymous with exhaustion.
Because before . . . I would fly through the door and run to the tree. Had mom wrapped more while I was at school? Was there another gift for me?
Before . . . I would rearrange the gifts, shaking, weighing, trying to guess. Never peeking, because the anticipation was almost as much fun as whatever delight lay hidden beneath the wrapping.
Before . . . the day was filled with gifts—given & received, family, food, fun.
Before . . . Christmas was synonymous with joy.
The past couple of years, I’ve made an effort to re-discover the joy. I try to keep the calendar from getting out of hand and I attempt to focus on doing the things that need to be done and postponing anything that can wait.
At night, I take a few moments to sit in the flickering light of candles and remember . . . remember what it was like . . . before the first Christmas.
Before . . . the sounds of angels in perpetual worship.
Before . . . perfect harmony with God the Father and God the Spirit.
Before . . . peace, joy, comfort.
Before . . . honor, reverence.
Before . . . glory.
But then He came.
To the sound of cattle, sheep, and donkeys.
To a people in continual tension with their Roman rulers and religious leaders.
To cold, wet, hunger, pain.
To anger, gossip, slander, humiliation, misunderstanding.
As a child, I knew the real meaning of Christmas. I knew there was a baby. I knew we exchanged gifts to commemorate the Ultimate gift. But my young mind was full of Sear’s Wish Books and shiny packages.
I didn’t dwell on the miracle.
But for my slightly more grown up mind, I think the secret to rediscovering the joy is to rediscover the miracle.
Christmas was always about the gifts. It still is. But the Gift that brings joy these days isn’t one that sits under the tree wrapped in shiny paper.
It’s the One that lay in a feeding trough wrapped in rags.
Immanuel – God with us.
Father, thank you for sending your Son. Thank you for being the true, the only, source of Joy.