My thoughts on Christmas

Do any of you remember the wonder of Christmas? If you were like many families, it started with television commercials. Watching kids playing games and coveting them. Then it moved to newspaper ads and catalogs. The next step was sitting down with mom or dad with a piece of typing paper folded to look like a greeting a card and a crayon. You sat there writing out what you wanted to Santa, occasionally glancing over at your parent to see if you were spelling it right. Then it was a trek to the post office to mail your letter to the North Pole.

The wonder of Christmas didn’t end there. Dad or mom went out to get a tree and you watched them drag it into the house, the pine needles dragging behind as he took it to the tree stand. It usually took some time for them to force the trunk into the green or red metal tree stand but, once it stood tall, it was usually a breath taking sight.

What you probably didn’t know was that your dad crawled into a crawl space to dig out the Christmas decorations. The boxes were waiting by the tree and usually contained the decorations your family had either made or bought over the years and then hung on the tree. My favorite part was throwing the tinsel on the tree and watching it rest gently on the tree as it floated to it’s final destination. Anticipating the lights that were strung on the tree was also great too.

The last thing we hung up at our house were the stockings on the Fireplace. They were great decorations of mystery because as time got closer to Christmas they became bulky and heavier.

I’m not sure how you did it at your house, but at our house Christmas gifts trickled in as we got closer to Christmas day. If you hadn’t already traipsed through the house hunting for unwrapped gifts, the room with the tree became a place where you could be anxious for the coming day. You already had been counting down the day with your advent calendar so the extra gifts appearing only added to the excitement.

If you’re an adult and reading this, you’re probably looking at this post from a different perspective. You see the list of things to be done. The not-so-subtle hints from your kids or the time you have to sit with your kids meticulously spelling out words and guiding them as they draw out the letters so that they’re being drawn right.

The annual trip to the post office to drop off the letter and waiting in line behind a myriad of adults dressed in their winter coats with scarves draped around their necks while holding the hands of their children who are just trying to make sure their letters are read by Santa.

Going to the mall waiting in line for your son or daughter to sit in the lap of some complete stranger dressed like Santa Claus. You stood their patiently while you listened to impatient children or toddlers screaming in fright as they were placed in the lap of that complete stranger dressed like Santa Claus.

There was plenty of work dragging out all of the decorations in the house and putting them where they belonged. Unwrapping each piece of the manger scene from the newspaper it was encased in. Wrapping the tree in lights and then unwrapping it to find the one bulb that was causing all the other bulbs to stop working.

The countless hours of wrapping gifts only to have the kids rip open the gifts in mere seconds.

There was cookie making and ham baking and shopping and the list never seemed to end. You did it for the kids but, nevertheless it was still tiring .

As years went by, some of the traditions were laid by the wayside. The kids grew older and the amount of work to be done may have dwindled some. But you’re older too so you still get as tired.

Believe it or not the Bible talks about that kind of tired and finding the things in life that are important.

Luke 10:38-42:

While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.”

Let’s look at this passage for a moment. Martha and Mary are two different people. Vastly different. If I were to guess Martha is a type A kind of person. Everything has its place. Mary is not that type of person. I noticed something about this story as I was reading it. In verse 38:

While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house.

I might be making a mountain out of a mole hill but, that’s a pretty strong word to use if the Messiah is coming to your house. Martha didn’t have time for Jesus. She was busy. She had other things to do. He was only a guest.

Mary understood. This was someone who had been prophesied. If that was true, she knew sitting down with him was important.

Martha was upset. Mary was being lazy. She even called out Mary in front of Jesus. When I read that, I’m a bit astounded at Martha’s gall. But Jesus corrected her.

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t put your best foot forward at Christmas time. Of course, you should. Be there for your kids( if you have them). What I am saying is that if the preparation becomes too much and distracts you from the meaning of Christmas, it’s time to slow down. I can already hear a few readers saying “but I can’t slow down!” Yes, you can. How busy you are is your choice. Slowing down could simply mean that you need to take some time to read the Christmas story with your family.

When I started writing this devotional, I knew I wanted to use this story. I have had too many conversations about how the commercialization of Christmas has dulled their sense of wonder for the holidays. That everything was too rushed. I have heard others say that they hate Christmas because it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

It seems that every year things get faster. Sales come sooner. Pressure builds to buy the perfect gift. I’m going to let you in on a secret. The perfect gift will be nice but it will never be enough. How do I know? Ever watch a kid play with something he just opened? He’ll be done playing with it in 20 minutes and on to the next thing.

Psalms 46:10 starts by saying “Be Still and know that I am God.” Try it. This Christmas, stop everything for a few minutes and focus on the miracle of a baby that would be born to take away the sins of the world. Take a minute to find what’s important. Merry Christmas.

Sent from my iPhone

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