Message in a Bottle #9
I can’t feel Christmas coming like I used to.
“It’s two hours till Christmas and I find myself having to dig for that childlike anticipation that used to come without knocking.” Or at least that’s what I wrote last year. This year’s a little different, but still not the same as childhood.
There was no begging, no even asking on my part. Back then, it came without warning. It accosted without apology, barging in, rosy-cheeked from the cold and arms laden with spiced and peppermint cheer. It’s an ancient joy, one that as children we didn’t think twice about letting in. But now, crusted over by the year’s trials, losses, disappointments, heartbreaks…we have to be careful we don’t shut it out entirely.
It’s all backwards. Instead of being taught as a child, that’s when it came naturally, and it’s when we’re all grown up that we have to learn. Relearn.
And we absolutely need to.
Be a student of that joy.
Learn from the children still young enough to believe joy is magic, that it’s a gift, that giving is a gift.
Christmas itself is the greatest gift of all, the day Jesus stepped down from perfection and said, “I’m here. Dry your eyes. You’ll never be alone again.”
A baby boy won a war as old as the earth, putting in motion the end of sin and death with a humble entrance in a food trough.
In a stable that smelled.
In a town that had no room for him.
In a kingdom that wanted him dead.
In a world that rejected him.
That still rejects him.
“Come and rest,” he says. “I want you as you are and I came here this day not so that for hundreds and hundreds of years to come you could run around busying yourself and stressing even more, but so that you could rest. No matter what the year has thrown at you, no matter how much you have to do, no matter the hurt, pain, and tears, no matter the loss. Lay it down, rest, and remember the sacrifice I made for you. Remember or perhaps learn for the very first time just how infinitely I love you.”
You see, Christmas doesn’t need us. It will come, it will go, and it will stay as long as it can, hanging on in the glow of kind smiles, in the ungloved hands that reach out despite the cold, winning peace on earth and conquering the shadows.
We, on the other hand, SORELY need Christmas. It’s vital for our broken hearts. As much as it is a time to worship and remember, Christmas was a gift given to us freely and unconditionally and to ignore that is one of the biggest heartbreaks of our world.
Fair winds, following seas, and Merry Christmas, my friends!