It is no secret to any who know me, that I love Christmas. My family, back at least two generations, loves Christmas. We love buying gifts and the magic of secret keeping until, at last, Christmas morning arrives and everything is revealed. However, that is not the only reason we love Christmas. And yes, this is going to be one of those "true meaning of Christmas" posts that I'm sure many of you have already read this season. However, I don't really want to focus on how Jesus fits into Christmas, as much as I want to talk about the actual event of His birth.
The Little Drummer Boy came on the radio today and even though I've heard it countless times, I was struck with something new. I heard the familiar "rum pum pum pum"s and began to sing along and was suddenly hit with a feeling of excitement. Even though I'm well aware the story in the song is fictional, I could picture the scene so perfectly. Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to BE there? To welcome the baby king? I just got so giddy at the thought of it. What an honor it would have been to be there, to be present at the arrival of the Savior.
But the more I thought about it, the actual birth of Jesus, the more I began to realize that His birth wasn't celebrated. Again, I love Christmas, I know this stuff. This was just the first time I could picture it. I could picture the stable, the dirty, smelly, noisy, stable. We often think about the angels singing in the sky, proclaiming the arrival of the King, but I think we rarely think about donkeys braying, or even the more vulgar sounds of animals doing their business in nearby stalls. No little drummer boy to be found. How's that for a welcoming?
A pitiful number of people were excited for Jesus' birth. There was a decree for His death, there were non believers, people who had given up long ago, people who believed and hated Him from the start. But there were a few who honored and adored Him from the very beginning and I am so thankful for the nurturing they gave to that big God in a small body. I am so thankful that God was merciful enough to show us love in the most tangible way He could.
Can you see it? Can you picture that scene?
For the first time, I really can.
I can see the pain on Mary's face, and the wonder and terror on Joseph's.
I can hear the animals and the night noises. The sounds drifting in from the over-full inn, and the regular echos of wind and people in the street.
I can smell the stable animals and the straw they live in.
I can imagine the love and wonder the earthly parents of the Savior King must have felt.
I can sense the weight of prophecy.
Picturing this scene fills me to the brim with joy and peace and gratitude. I am in awe at the gift we were given. I am in awe at how we, how I, sometimes squander it. How I sometimes forget it. How it is easy to take for granted the magnitude of this man's life, from start to finish.
All of this to say, that Christmas is truly my favorite time of year. It is a whole season that, as a Christian, pushes me to remember, to focus, to act, on the birth of my Jesus. And every year, it is my prayer to get a little better at carrying remembrance with me farther and farther into the new year. That I might never let it slip from my mind that we are deeply loved by the Father. And that the joy from that knowledge might overflow onto others.
The gift buying, the secret keeping, the decoration, and the bliss giving season is wonderful and heaps of fun. But I think it would do me well to recall a little better, that the true meaning [yeah, I said it] of Christmas, is that God loves us. He loves us madly and selflessly, without reason, and far beyond our deepest secrets and worst flaws.
What a guy =)
Merry Christmas and thanks for reading