On my way to the mailbox the other day, I was admiring the neighbor’s Christmas lights and hoping to find a Christmas card (or two), when I was struck with a thought. I wonder what a visitor from a third world country might think of our Christmas celebrations. This thought snowballed into an avalanche of other questions:
How confusing the commercialism must be?
How could I begin to offer explanations of the aisles of Christmas crud?
How trivial all the lights and flash and extra this holiday must seem?
Would they even be able to tell what we are celebrating?
How could they tell exactly what are we celebrating?
If I had the opportunity, I would desperately want to explain that all of this – the tinsel, the lights, the gifts, the gatherings – all come down to a Baby, but not just an ordinary, everyday baby – but a special One.
On Sunday we sang the carol, “What Child is the This?” and as I reflected on the title and lyrics, I realized THIS was the question I needed to ponder in order to explain my heart’s celebration of Christmas. What Child, what Baby, could be so impactful on history that His birth would initiate all of this?
As the hymn writer, Dix, explains ” This, this is Christ the King whom shepherds guard and angels sing,” Why would shepherds guard a King? They normally only guard sheep and lambs – oh wait, He wasn’t given “Lamb” as a nickname – but his cousin declares Him to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:9) So maybe it is fitting that this particular Baby, this King be guarded by the shepherds who were sent there by the song of the angels. (My pondering led to adoring.)
“Why lies he in such mean estate?” the second verse begins. I appreciate the old English, but the meaning of “mean estate” is lost on many nowadays. Real estate is all about “location, location, location” and the location of the newborn King sung about here, is pretty harsh. Why should any baby, much less a royal baby be born where “ox and lamb are feeding?” This Baby, the Son of Mary, Christ the King would be a King like no other. He would be OF the people, one of us. He would come so far down, so low to be our Emmanuel, our Messiah. (Another aspect of pondering turned to adoring.)
Each time, as I began to ponder the identity of this Baby, I found myself in awe. I began to adore this Baby. That THE God of all creation would come and be completely embodied in the form of a helpless infant, totally dependent upon His creation… I am in awe.
Watching Hallmark movies and animated specials, we could make list of all of the “good” things people actually celebrate through the Christmas season: Family, Tradition, Love, Hope, Innocence, Goodwill Toward Man, The Christmas Spirit (whatever that is?), Giving . . .
Yet, if this is ALL we are celebrating this season, there can be plenty of solid reasons and lots of legitimate feelings to lead us to decide to sit out of the pomp this year. People are struggling. War is literally raging. Hurt is happening. Uncertainty is real. Fear is present. Loved ones are missing.
But, before you brush off the holiday or decide to just go-through-the-motions by putting on a brave face, decide for yourself:
What is all of this really all about?
Who is this Child, this Baby, that was the impetus for Christmas?
Don’t let the world steal away the reason you celebrate. Don’t let others dim or diminish what Christmas should mean. Don’t let Satan tell your heart lies.
I believe that your investigating, your wondering, your pondering will lead you to a place where you too can adore Him and find that His birth is indeed worth celebrating because He is worth worshipping.
A Good Day
Yesterday was a good day. Wally, the girls and I got out of Clarksville to spend the afternoon at our favorite mall in Nashville. We visited the ABLE store and ate at our favorite new-to-us pizza place, Nicky’s, in the Nations neighborhood. After a stop at local coffee shop, using the GPS on my phone […]
The Older Man and The Younger Man
As I stood there, I watched the two men walk away down the path from the patio, pass the lilies, to the driveway. The older one being led by the younger one. I never had noticed that their heads were shaped similarly with the same balding spots on their respective crowns. The older one’s back […]
Operation Do It (O.D.I.)
Tomorrow starts the third week of the girls’ summer break from school. Over the years we have developed some structure for the girls’ free mornings so they wouldn’t spend all day every day glued to some screen or begin begging us for something to “do” at 10 am each day. I am not sure which […]