NOTICE (for those who “follow” this blog): – The version that goes to “followers” is always the first, most “raw” edit. I typically fix 5-10 typos, errors etc. within five minutes of posting. However, that doesn’t help those of you who automatically get the first read! So I apologize for the occasional sloppy presentation – but I’m sure you wouldn’t want a fresh email for every edit – DEREK
READY? So it’s Saturday already, December 22; and the BIG question for everyone is, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
“What do you mean?” you say, “I’ve still got a few hours today, then there’s Sunday and Monday to do all the shopping I want!”
Well, if you’re the sort of person who is willing to risk a trip to the mall after December 22, then I’m not sure that I can help you! Personally I try not to venture within a mile of the BTCC (Brandon Temple of Conspicuous Consumption) more than about once after Thanksgiving.
Yes, I admit it, I did write a chapter in my Christmas book about the fun of last-minute shopping, but I think I may have lost my edge since then so far as high-pressure aerobic gifting is concerned.
RE-FOCUS: So I guess maybe I should rephrase my “Are we ready for Christmas?” question. Instead, then, how about, “Are we ready to celebrate what Christmas really means?”
Has Advent cultivated the focus of our hearts and souls to the point that we’re prepared to receive the coming of the King on Christmas Eve?
Are we willing to kneel before the manger and worship the Christ child?
Will we celebrate Christmas 2012 the same way we always have, or will we invite the Savior of the World to enter into our experience anew, each and every day, as the gift of grace, promise, light and life?
Have we learned to tell the difference between nostalgia and spiritual truth?
“Are we ready for Christmas?”
LIVE LIKE JESUS: Yesterday I spent a couple of hours working on my guitar solo for the Christmas Eve candlelight communion service at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon. I dug out an old collection of Christmas carols and eventually ran across “See Amid the Winter’s Snow,” a favorite I don’t believe I’ve sung since my last Christmas in England, back in 1977.
This is the how the last verse and chorus reads:
“Teach, O teach us, Holy Child, By thy face so meek and mild, Teach us to resemble thee, In thy sweet humility. Hail, thou ever-blessed morn; Hail, redemption’s happy dawn; Sing through all Jerusalem, Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
We talked about this, and the near impossible challenge to “resemble Jesus,” in my men’s group Wednesday evening. It was a conversation aboutholiness, and the best summation we could come up with in terms of what any of us can possibly do (on an ongoing basis) to “resemble thee, in thy sweet humility” was this:
“Holiness involves the simple decision to spend more time in the presence of God and to allow the encounter to change us.” (page 99, 10 Life-Charged Words)
more than a story about the decorations…
STRAIGHTFORWARD: It’s a simple equation; but I believe it draws attention to one of the most critical questions at the heart of Christmas: “Are we going to spend more deliberate time in the presence of God? And are we going to allow that encounter to change us?”
Because if getting ready for Christmas is going to mean anything at all, then it must involve understanding why God sent Jesus into this uncertain, dangerous world. And, when we really and truly come to grips with what God was up to via the Incarnation, then the only response that we can possibly come up with is this: To receive him…
How silently, how silently The wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of His heaven. No ear may hear His coming, But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him still, The dear Christ enters in. (O Little Town of Bethlehem)