As any parent who’s walked this twirling planet for any length of time can attest, during the Christmas season the globe seems to make like a swiveling figure skater, spinning faster and faster, almost dizzyingly out of control. The to-do list swells like an unfurled scroll. The calendar teems with more colored scribbles than a Jackson Pollock original. Cookies to bake. Presents to shake. Decorations to take. All, of course, before Christmas break. And those are just the things we plan for, besides the last-minute dinner invitation or the earnest eleven o’clock entreaty, “Mom, I really need three dozen bars and a reindeer costume for tomorrow morning.” Thanks, Junior. I’m not sure what I would have done with the nuisance of those unused sleeping hours tonight.
Normally during the rest of the year the busyness of life gets decried by the pulpit and the populace as evil and worthy of contempt, antithetical to the quiet, contemplative, Christian life. It’s hard to be still and know God when rushing through life. But in the Christmas season, there’s a sense of holy hysteria; the hoopla and histrionics connect to the Savior of the World after all. Thus, the parties and presents and decorations and demonstrations all fall into the redemptive realm; they exist squarely under the umbrella of the celebration of the birth of Christ. The question though that’s begged to be asked by the wearying Christian world driving the sleigh running only on fumes is a pressing one: is it worth it? Are the febrile, frenzied pace and the extraordinary effort we put into this season worth it?
The answer is a resounding yes. There’s nothing more worthy of celebration than Christmas. After thousands of years of wallowing in the murky enslavement of sin, God initiated the rescue plan. God sent his own son into the world. As we travel this swiftly tilting planet and traverse the hills and valleys of life, we don’t journey alone. God stands not detached and aloof. God is with us. Immanuel. God has entered the fray. He has brought about the salvation of his people. Amen. It’s time to celebrate. In a world that celebrates sports titles and honor roll students and everything else in between with pomp and circumstance and a smorgasbord of culinary treats, surely Christmas deserves a celebration worthy of a papal visit. Be not ordinary or blasé or apathetic with Christmas. Strike up the band, roll out the red carpet, set the fine China. Celebrate that which is worthy of celebration.
No, I’m not advocating burning the Nativity candle at both ends. Surely a frenetic pace worthy of Grand Central Station doesn’t necessarily equate with a Christ-centered advent celebration. This devotional is simply trying to instill perspective, that Christmas is surely worthy of any energy and acclaim we can muster. It is most definitely worth it. And what’s more, it makes everything we do in this world worthwhile. Christmas infuses our lives with purpose and meaning.
What would be the point of memorizing the dates and causes and the cast of characters of history if history itself wasn’t divided by the birth of Christ? Why put the energy into mastering the intricacies of the English language if there was no love of Christ to communicate with the world? Why study the laws of science if there was no answer to the fallen creation’s groaning? In short, why life without Christmas? By converse the answer to every “why” question we pose is simply “because of Christmas.”
As we celebrate Christmas in various ways and forms, may we never lose sight of the weight of holy joy. Let us never temper expectation. May we never choose apathy over ardor. Let us celebrate and sing and dance and shout the forever truth- that God is with us. And may we never lose sight of the fact that it is not a mortgage, nor a vision, nor a bottom line or a family gathering or social graces that makes us go. We are empowered and fueled primarily because of Christmas, because God is with us, because hope was born so long ago in a tiny stable in a place called Bethlehem.