Who says Christmas has to come to a close? Who says that just because the boxes and bags get broken down and packed away for use next year that we can’t intentionally and carefully prepare beautiful presents and packages of love and ministry for one another?
Simeon believed. He didn’t merely exist, letting the days go by unmarked, unmindful of greater things being done in the heavens, oblivious to the work the Lord was doing to prepare the world for His coming—or even discounting the prophecies, and deciding God might not be as trustworthy as he supposed. He noted the times, and he believed the prophets who said no one is like God. No one could perceive how he works. He is beyond this time and space, and as such, he is the only One who can demand we trust him as he is.
With every whispered word of love by his mother Mary, every call to supper, every instruction in his father’s carpenter shop or the classroom of the rabbis, every shouted greeting in the marketplace, heaven’s victory over the grave was announced to all. “God with us!” “God with us!” “God with us!”
The true message of Christmas is about two invasions. One was necessary to cast out the usurper, the one who by pretense occupied God’s territory. For him and his followers, there is no peace for those who rebel to the end. The other invasion was necessary to pierce my stony heart.
Disappointments, slights, brokenness in life. Mistakes, but also sins, hardness of heart, dissension. Sometimes I echo Dolly’s words when she says, “I just don’t feel like I have any more hope left in me.” My heart is troubled, and my coordinates don’t register on the radar. I’m lost, with desperation rapidly closing in. How do I know he will come back for me, to take me to him?
The page’s very salvation that night depended upon the life-giving warmth from his master’s passage ahead of him. This is how it is with us, for “in Christ we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our master, our elder brother, our captain does not merely mark the way for us; it is through following him that we are quickened and warmed and made more alive, eventually confirming our hope in resurrection and eternal glory (1 Corinthians 15:23). (a repost of an article that appeared at Servants of Grace)
Leanness comes in many forms, not just material. We can all feel this way sometimes even if life looks full and rich and abundant on the outside. There can be leanness in confidence about identity or value or worth. There can be leanness in health or security about the future. There can be leanness in numbers at the table if we are missing loved ones who have left us through death, or departure, or anger, or neglect.
There is a leanness a lot of us are feeling this year.
This Christmas, embrace the oddity that causes angels to desire to look into the incarnation of redemption. Go outside the camp, yearn for the lasting city, echo the joyful songs of the angels, make your home welcome to strangers, and to the King, the one born on Christmas day.
Has it ever occurred to you that Christmas is meant to be less about nostalgia and expectations for the perfect day and more about identifying with the Chief Sufferer this babe in a manger was to become?
James tells us it is the essence of Christian love to care for the orphans and the widows, the poor in spirit and the impoverished in heart, the sick in soul, and the discouraged (1:27). This is an all-year exhortation, and yet, it’s not difficult to see how now, during the season of warm fuzzy Christmas commercials and reminders of what used to be, when there are not the same number of gifts under the tree, or when the traditional experiences are missing a participant, that the orphans and widows among us need care. Now is when the ache is most pronounced, when the holes seem to echo.