He came to live among us.
As Christians, we encourage each other to put the brakes on the runaway train of stress, rushing, and commercialism that threaten to consume Christmas. We long to step out of the hustle and bustle of activity, to slow down and savor the season of advent. To focus on Jesus.
And yes. Yes. That is right and that is good.
I imagine what that might look like… a family with clean and tidy children doing whimsical and artistic things. Having a gentle and holy Christmas. Sitting quietly in candlelight, probably with the children in matching pajamas, watching snow falling gently outside the windows, singing Christmas carols. Sharing their homemade gifts with each other. And eating… I don’t know… organic fruit.
While at my house – especially when the boys were younger – anticipation and adrenaline were high, voices were loud and excited, gifts came from the store in boxes that said “Lego” or “Nerf”, Christmas photos sometimes require “persuasion”, and hands, faces and floors were usually… sticky.
Not exactly the tender and hallowed image I’d conjured up.
And you know what? The first Christmas wasn’t exactly a pinterest-worthy photo-shoot either. Mary was hugely pregnant. They had the worst vacation EVER (probably 90 miles on a donkey, and no reservation at the Holiday Inn waiting at the other end). She delivered her baby in a dark, cold, smelly barn. And then, in all the mess, unexpected guests!
And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
God became man. Jesus – the perfect blend of the spiritual and the physical – came to us. Jesus, in very nature God, made Himself nothing… He became one of us. He came to live among us. The Message puts it this way, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.”
Can you feel the relief? He understands. He’s one of us.
So at Christmas we celebrate the spiritual AND the material. At our house, we sing O Come All Ye Faithful and we giggle at Alvin and the Chipmunks’ rendition of Christmas Don’t Be Late. We make a nativity scene out of Legos, with Mary and Joseph and the angel guarding them played by Star Wars characters. Bob the Builder and his heavy equipment come to visit the stable. We decorate our tree. And our house. And the porch. And the yard. And we make ridiculous amounts of cookies and candy. We blend the spiritual and the physical.
And we wish you all a joyful, loud, worshipful, merry, sticky-hands-on Christmas.