“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”* We love that old song and the memories it stirs. But what does Christmas look like? Along with hopes for the proverbial white Christmas, we each have special ways to remember and celebrate this joyous holiday.
Lights are strung to outline houses, bushes and trees, and even vehicles! Christmas trees of real or faux evergreen in varying sizes are put up inside the house. Then we choose white lights, mixed colors, or a single-color theme. And we add decorations and bows, candles, poinsettias and more to bring a festive holiday look to our homes. There are as many ways to decorate as we are different and unique!
But then there’s the other part… shopping! It can either be fun or a chore... yet, there’s something in the busy, frenzied pace that belies the true peace of Christmas. I confess to not liking the commercialization that starts barely after Thanksgiving is over, if not earlier. I don’t like hectic shopping, looking for just the right gift by trekking from store to store for hours on end, and waiting in long lines that go on forever. And we especially don’t care to be among rushing crowds that push and shove and grab… we’ve all heard about those examples which, thankfully, I’ve not personally witnessed. The deals may be hard to beat, but… that ambience leaves a bit to be desired.
I prefer leisurely shopping trips, listening to Christmas music playing in the background with list in hand because I’m not good at off-the-cuff gift decisions. I enjoy gazing at the fancy decorations and gift ideas on display, giving smiles to other shoppers, and watching the faces of little kids light up at the sights. But shh!! I have to admit I’ve taken advantage of online shopping and actually prefer it now. Yes, me! Someone who could never imagine she’d ever do that!
Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Christmas… all those gift-wrapped packages under the tree! They hold hidden treasures for loved ones and friends, secrets known only to the giver. Giving a gift is exciting, really the best part! As the recipient unwraps their gift, they tend to take on the bright glow of joy... and treasure the gift wrapped with love from your heart to theirs.
I’m sure some of my other favorite Christmas memories are yours, too… like Christmas Eve candlelight services, caroling with friends to greet those who are housebound, memories of Christmas Day morning worship services of my childhood, and the happy gatherings of family and friends.
All of which brings me to contemplate the treasured gift we celebrate on this special day - a baby born a long time ago. Seemingly no different than any other infant… except that this one was born in a stable, amongst the cattle, donkeys, cats and mice… a baby whose birth was announced by angels to lowly dirty shepherds living out in the fields… a baby whose life still holds special meaning for us today.
To an astonished young woman, the blessed virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel had appeared with this message: “’Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “’Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’” Luke 1:29-32 NIV
In due time, Mary’s little baby was born… in a stable, there being no room in the inn at Bethlehem. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’” Luke 2:8-14
That birth announcement must have been so exciting, yet very humbling, to have seen and heard! How awesome to consider that God sent us His love as a tiny infant, gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. The baby Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us… the one who walked this earth on His journey to a cross… He’s the gift of salvation for us to unwrap and treasure. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Merry Christmas to each of you!
Linda A. Roorda
In wintry stillness there’s a peace I find
While the world’s a’bustle with its fast-paced voice
Midst a din that beckons in all directions
To draw me away from peaceful reflection.
From frenzied crowds to pushy shoppers
There’s a greed we find in ego’s actions.
May we bless instead by giving of self
For within each heart we hold the treasure.
Yet it seems we rush from here to there
Exhaustion filling our stressed-out lives.
Did we accomplish what needed doing
Or merely deplete our dignity’s calm?
May even we with our lists so long
Take time to ponder and remember why
The reason for joy in this season of cheer
Is gift wrapped in peace and given with love.
In celebration our voices are joined
Recalling a birth from long, long ago
Announced to shepherds by angels on high
“Glory to God…and on earth peace to all.”
For with the birth of baby Jesus
We gaze in awe on the promised One
Messiah, Savior, and Light of the world
The Prince of Peace for our seeking hearts.
Most holy of nights when God came to earth
To share Himself, gift wrapped and swaddled
With an invitation that we would unwrap
His gift encased in salvation’s love.
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*Written by Meredith Willson in 1951, sung by many, hits by Perry Como and Bing Cosby in 1951.
Original blog post at: https://poeticdevotionsblog.wordpress.com/