The Christian world rushes head long into another holiday season. The horses were straining at the gate weeks ago. Christmas sales were advertised before we threw out the pumpkins. The turkey population has experienced a significant decline. The holiday season has been in full-on assault. It will climax at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
How many holiday seasons have I experienced that came at me like a garish parade and left me with nothing but the sound of ringing in my ears? Too many!
My sincere hope is not to miss the deep meaning of our celebration this time around as the clamor fades into the cold, quiet night of winter. The trite but true “meaning of Christmas” is not found in the holiday rush, but in warm quiet reflection on what hope arose with the birth of the baby Jesus.
The Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
Jesus did not come with fanfare. Wise men had to seek him out, and they found him in a humble, quiet manager. They found him away from the bustle of the world.
He might be easily missed under the glare of neon lights in streets filled with frantic shoppers. He is easily forgotten in crowded shopping malls where rudeness often trumps good will. He is often ignored in the festivities of loud holiday parties.
Those things come at us like an assault on our senses. If we are not prepared for the onslaught, we will be swept up in the raucous current and deposited in the backwater at the end of another holiday season. Wishing we had done things differently languishes in the regret of the good intentions that haunt us when the lights and noise dim, leaving us emptier for the unrequited desire of wishing we had done better.
I write this for myself, to set an anchor to the rock of our salvation, that I might not be swept out in the current or find myself stuck in that backwater at the end of the day.
God provides a place of refuge in the holiday maelstrom. That place is big enough for us all. When the glare of holiday lights gets in your eyes and the cacophony of holiday noise rings in your ears, find a quiet place to reflect on what was foretold by the prophet Isaiah:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Or reflect on what the prophet, Jeremiah, proclaimed:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.'”
We celebrate the birth of Jesus, the righteousness of God given to us, God with us. The gift is not found in the noisy shopping mall, but in the quiet – where God desires to visit with us. When we approach Him with a contrite heart, we find what we are looking for. I do not want to let God’s great everlasting gift be lost on me this holiday season in the frenzy of giving and getting gifts that do not last.