You teach me the way of life.
In your presence is total celebration.
Beautiful things are always in your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (CEB)
Now that Thanksgiving is over, my boys have begun their Christmas lists. We have a four gift policy in our household for Christmas: 1) something to wear, 2) something you need, 3) something you want, 4) something to read. It’s our effort to simplify Christmas and focus less on self, and more on God. That said, our boys always have quite the list for their one “want” gift. The conversation around the Christmas list always goes something like this:
Boy=Trampoline: Mom= Our yard slopes down into a lake.
Boy=A Gameboy: Mom= Seriously, how many screens do you need?
Boy=A drone: Mom= Please…it’s an expensive kite.
Boy=(Huff and Puff) How about some cooking stuff? Mom=Hmmm…you can write that down.
I know what you’re thinking…I’m a total Grinch. But, in a house already overflowing with stuff, the last thing I want to get my children is more stuff. For the past several years, my husband and I have practiced simplifying Christmas. We try to put traditions in place that emphasize the gift of Jesus, not the gift of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like presents, but sometimes I want more that what comes in a box.
What I really want for Christmas is an encounter with the divine. I want that moment, when the holy and human intersect for one brief moment and all you can do is stand in awe and wonder. I want to be with the shepherds, looking up as the angels sing. I want to be like Mary, full of the ponderous weight of God’s love. I want to experience the fresh hope that God’s salvation brings. I want to know, without a doubt, that “God is in us, God is for us, God is with us…Emmanuel”*. And that is not going to come from a department store.
Instead, I need to spend some time cultivating holiness. I need to sit in the quiet before God’s throne, seeking his presence, his wisdom, his light. I need to contemplate the Scriptures–mediate on them in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I need to go out into the world and see where God is moving and working, and then pick up some seeds and start planting his love.
And then, I need to celebrate his love. That’s what Christmas is really about, after all. We celebrate God’s love, God’s salvation and God’s presence among us. Because, as the psalmist writes, in God’s presence is total celebration. God makes beautiful things, and it’s our job as his followers to show others these beautiful things. So, at Christmas, we offer the gifts of hope, joy, love, and peace. Our celebration of Christmas should extend God’s beautiful gifts to the world, in the hope that his kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.
As you put together your Christmas list this season, consider ways you might bring the gifts of hope, joy, love, and peace into the world.
I don’t know about you…but what I really want for Christmas is Emmanuel.
Blessings and Peace,
* Wayne Kirkpatrick, “God is With Us”, recorded by Casting Crowns 2008, track 6 on Peace on Earth, Reunion Records. compact disc.