December 12, 2012
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." - Luke 2:6-7 (NIV)
Growing up, Christmas celebrations were minimal in my home. My dad was a quiet biology teacher and my mother a hard-working homemaker. Which didn't translate into extravagant parties or gifts. And yet looking back, I don't think I missed a thing ... for it was the sweet and simple practices that meant the most to me.
For example, each year we bundled up in the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights. We rolled sugar cookie dough and cut it into bells and stars, covered with green and red frosting and sprinkled with colored sugar. It was the days of true tinsel, so decorating was a slow process, as my thrifty mother made us place it strand by strand on the tree (and remove it the same way) to keep it smooth for the next year.
Christmas Eve included attending the 11 p.m. service, holding little white candles with paper skirts, and singing Silent Night at midnight. And Christmas morning was quiet with stockings and simple gifts, like a felt doll made by an aunt.
The days leading up to Christmas weren't filled to the brim. Instead there were tender moments sprinkled throughout ... little touches to remind us that something special had happened 2000 years ago. Rather than a time to focus on more, Christmas was a time to be thankful for what we had.
How different today is — especially with the pull to celebrate Christmas bigger and better each year. Yet, reading Jesus' birth story in Luke, I realize God modeled a much quieter, more grateful way to celebrate Christmas. And I wonder if Jesus' real story, rather than what ads suggest, isn't the best way to honor His birth.
Luke's story of Jesus' birth tells of a humble people in a modest setting. No comfortable room was available so they made due in a place meant for animals. No one gave Mary a layette for her baby, so she wrapped Him in cloths. And there was no padded crib, instead a food trough was used for Jesus to sleep.
Yet the angels watched with awe, praising and giving thanks to God. And Mary treasured and pondered all that had happened.
And I wonder, as we face increasing pressure to commercialize Christmas, if that approach isn't the best way to celebrate Christ's birth. Perhaps rather than shock-and-awe, we need simple and sweet. Might humble and lowly, rather than extravagant, lead us to a place of wonder?
This Christmas, I'm taking a step back. I'm choosing to make less, more. I'm choosing more quiet, simple, humble, treasuring, pondering moments. Less hurry, more pausing. Less fuss and more focus on the true meaning of Christmas ... a baby born to be a King ... a servant who is Savior ... Emmanuel ... God with us. Amen.
Dear Lord, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, help me to pause and focus on what really matters. Help me to experience the joy of Christmas in my heart. Thank You for sending Your son. In His Precious Name, Amen.
Visit Glynnis Whitwer's blog for tips on celebrating Christmas simply and sweet - and some Christmas giveaways!
Unwrapping His Christmas Presence (DVD) or CD by Renee Swope
Reflect and Respond:
What has God done for you this year that you can treasure in your heart and ponder?
Are there any big Christmas traditions you can let go this year, and replace them with something simple?
John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)
Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (NIV)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105