Christmas is over. The presents have been opened. The wrapping paper cleaned up and the gifts put away. The feast has been consumed and most of the goodies have disappeared. While Christmas is an amazing, awe-filled celebration and time of memory making and remembering, the post-Christmas season can be a bit of a letdown. After all the planning, anticipation, and eager expectation, post-Christmas can feel mundane, anti-climactic, and disappointing. While New Year’s is right around the corner, it does not carry the same joy, celebration, excitement, and magical moments that Christmas does.
The long awaited day is here. Christmas morning. A special time of celebration, reflection, and love. Gifts are exchanged and joy shared. Family is appreciated and celebrated, and memories are made. However, in the midst of the wrapping paper, delicious food, fun games, and family jokes, let’s not forget whose birthday we’re celebrating.
The world is full of a diverse array of people. We come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, have different styles and accents, use different lingo, and possess unique behavioral quirks. I am reminded by the diversity among humanity every time I stand in line at the grocery store or sit in an airport terminal. While we form groups based on preferences and similarities and judge each other based on our differences, fundamentally we are all the same. We are driven by the same desires and share the same needs, which is why we bump into different people at the grocery store in an airport security line. And most importantly, we were all created in the image of God.
Christmas is less than a week away! The time is flying by! As we continue on our Road to Christmas series with the list of unlikelys, today’s topic is probably the most unlikely of all. Unlikely places. The Christmas story is full of unusual details; however, considering it is the account of the arrival of the King of kings, some of the most unexpected parts are the places that significant events took place.
Traveling is a large part of modern Christmas celebrations. Families gather from far and wide to celebrate the season with loved ones. Adult sons and daughters journey with their families back to their childhood home and join the masses on their way to various locations for Christmas. In many ways, this bustle of travel activity harkens back to the very first Christmas, a Christmas marked by lots of traveling.
We love the manger scene and rosy pictures of Mary riding a donkey on the way to Bethlehem. It seems so idyllic and serene. But have you ever considered how stressful and chaotic that trip might have been for Joseph and Mary? They, along with the rest of the world, were on the move because of some unexpected government orders. Traveling to Bethlehem was not part of their five year plan, and especially not while Mary was expecting the Christ Child. However, God had different plans and used an unlikely government order to accomplish it.
Christmas is a rather magical time of year. The lights and festive décor truly add to the holiday spirit. Angels grace Christmas trees and stars are liberally scattered throughout. However, these traditional elements of our celebrations point to an even more magical time. A time in history when the chasm between heaven and earth became smaller and angels commonly appeared to men.
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Not because the decorations are beautiful, the music is cheerful, or the season is nostalgic, but because it’s a season during which we intentionally place Jesus at the forefront and focus upon Him. While the decorations and holiday cheer are fine and good, they should never be the focus. As Christians, we know the true meaning of Christmas and, therefore, ought to celebrate and focus our minds and hearts accordingly.
For this reason, I’ll be taking time this month to reflect and highlight different parts of the Christmas story. Over the past five years, I’ve looked at Christmas through the eyes of different members of the story. Mary’s wide-eyed wonder, Joseph’s steadfast gaze, Elizabeth’s joy, the shepherd’s fear, Bethlehem’s busyness, Simon’s amazement, and the magi’s worship. Each character has a unique perspective from which we gain greater insight into the miracle of Christmas.
Twenty-twenty has been a year of different. At first, so many had great expectations for this year and new decade. Twenty-twenty vision was the slogan many used to predict what this year would bring. While it may seem like this expectation never came about due to COVID-19, as we near the end of the year, I would have to argue the converse.
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