Monday, December 9, 2013

Reclaiming Christmas

It's been a while since I have had the chance to sit and write. The week before Thanksgiving found us all battling a lengthy cold. Thankfully we recovered before the Holiday and were therefore able to celebrate with family. We had a great time and too much food, of course.

We had a little reprieve and then last week our littlest came down with a fever and I stayed home every day canceling all previously made plans to nurse and snuggle her while she battled a virus. By the end of the week I decided enough was enough and I took her to the doctor. The pediatrician sent us home with instructions to give her ibuprofen and bring her back in the morning. She's finally back to her normal happy self. Everyone is relieved to see her smiling and laughing again. It's never pleasant to see any of the kids sick and feverish.

Before Thanksgiving I found myself already starting to feel anxiety about Christmas and the little time I felt that I had left. Mention of a party and panic would creep up, a post about someone being done with their shopping and I'd feel behind, the thought of putting out decorations and making sure everything is just perfect left me feeling preemptively tired. 

I could blame my apprehension on the fact that stores have Christmas decorations out immediately following Halloween, or that the bite of cold accompanied by snow came earlier this year, perhaps the Pinterest posts I saw floating around. Those things do come in to play to a small degree, but it's also a mindset. As I realized that my feelings regarding Christmas were turning into dread it dawned on me that dread is the opposite of what I should be feeling. Christmas is the commemoration of a day that hundreds upon thousands of people waited for in eager anticipation - in excitement! This day had been foretold; it had been promised. 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6-7

This was a day that Angels proclaimed.

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." "Luke 2:9-14

Christ's arrival was so magnificent that Kings traveled from far off lands to gift Him with riches.

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,  Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." ...They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." Matthew 2:1-12

Christmas is a glorious day! Apprehension, panic, frustration, dread - these feelings do not coincide with what the Lord desires for us at Christmastime. The words used above are joy and peace. When the focus of Christmas shifts to being about all the superfluous stuff it doesn't allow room for joy or peace. 

Everyone finds joy and peace in their own way. This year as a family we tapered down our commitments and our expectations in order to find peace amidst what could be a mad Holiday dash. Instead we're focusing on the true meaning of Christmas with advent readings coupled with conversations each day talking about Jesus' Birthday. We're spending purposeful time with each other as well as friends and family and finding joy in the little things this year instead of trying to make everything big and important.

That feeling of dread has quickly been replaced with excitement. Christmas is not just another day on the calendar. There is something amazing about this day that God sent us His only son - not as a conquering King riding a chariot, but rather as a baby small and humble born in a common stable, amongst animals. There is a feeling of mystery and reverence surrounding Christmas that can only be explained by the fact that it's a celebration of the greatest gift ever given to man. 

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21

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