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Archive for January 9th, 2014

Christmas-tree-box-packing-storage-621x660

Many speak of how ’empty’ their homes feel once Christmas is packed away for another year. I have to admit, cleaning away the decor of Christmas is something I usually am ready to do by about noontime on Christmas Day. This year I waited patiently until December 29th.

When the last of the boxes was placed on it’s shelf, and the final needles from the tree vacuumed up, I then moved on to cleaning up the food of the season. The best way to do that was to encourage my son to have a couple of his fourteen year old, male, friends over for a day of video gaming … food cleaned up!

Once Christmas got packed away I looked forward to the following morning, when I sat down in my cozy chair, with a steaming cup of brew, and admired the clutter-free house.

It is then that Christmas hit … as though for the first time of the season.

I sit in the quiet of the still dark room and pondered the season we just celebrated.

Mary was young … really young … young like my fourteen-year old son. Still a child by today’s standards, but a young woman in her day. Preparing for her upcoming marriage to Joseph, her plans were knocked off their axis when she was visited by a stranger, who announced what was to come … a baby.

No, not just a baby … the Savior. The long-awaited Messiah.

Her wedding plans altered … did she realize her plans for the rest of her life were altered as well?

Joseph was planning and preparing to wed his betrothed by creating a good name for himself in his community and by laboring to establish a home for them to share. The reputation he had worked so hard to create was now to be destroyed by the news Mary shared … she was pregnant, and he knew this child did not originate in the sparkle in his eyes. As a man of honor he would divorce her quietly (engagement in those days was a legal contract, as binding as marriage). Then, he too was visited by a heavenly stranger … the nest egg he was planning to use to start a life for two, would now be needed to support three.

Sigh!

What a drama, a thriller, a mystery!

How is it that, I do not fully grasp the weighty significance of the Christmas story until after it is over, until after all of it’s symbols are packed away?

Maybe it is because the symbols are human ones …

  • trees topped with angels and stars
  • nativity sets
  • advent candles
  • carols

Maybe our focus is so directed to the symbols of Christmas we miss the figures they represent and the story they should lead us to ponder. The story of sin-filled people, in need of and waiting for the arrival of their Savior … Messiah. The story of God sending that Savior in a most unexpected, unassuming way … the way every person enters this life … as a baby.

Unlike the baby Jesus of our Christmas nativities and carols, this one did not stay a baby. He grew and skinned his knees, and learned his lessons, and did his chores. He began his ministry and taught lessons, and performed miracles, and loved the unlovable. He was crucified, died, buried, rose again.

And I sat, my still-filled mug not even cooled, as the tears of understanding rolled down my cheeks …

This Christmas gift was never given with the intent of being packed away until next year … that is only for the symbols.

What God gave was never intended to only be a symbol.

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