This year, Christmas has become a 5th Season. A visitor during winter that is not defined by cold, ice, gray, or short days--- but rather, a season of “warmth,” colors, lights, ribbons, peppermint mochas, and family.
I have heard the concerns--- the reason to celebrate Christmas is Christ; forget the presents, the decorations, the music, or the lights. Let’s have a birthday party for Jesus and go against the consumer frenzy that this celebration has become. I like the idea of having a birthday party for Jesus to teach children about the One we celebrate at Christmas, although He was not born on December 25. I get it, I understand, and I agree with the fact that this time should be a time where we pause and are awed, moved, and transformed by the fact that God became man. However, I find great enjoyment as I participate in all the other traditions, which I do believe to be traditions only, and not a religious observance. However, I find some of these quite meaningful.
1. Christmas Trees and Ornaments
There was a time when I was against Christmas trees. No really, I refused to put up a Christmas tree one year convinced that it was an evil pagan celebration. However, even before that conviction, I was not burning the tree, worshiping the tree, or bringing it into my home as a sign of fertility. I will not tell you that I think about the tree as a symbol of life in Christ, although it is true that we have life through Him. No, to me, the tree is just a traditional decoration. The reason I like it, however, are the ornaments. I don’t know about your ornaments or your tree, but the ones on my tree tell a story. There are the ornaments that Ellie has made--- painted ceramic with its colors bleeding into each other--- little hands that were learning to paint. There is the ornament that Nina got on her first Christmas, when she finally had a family and was an orphan no more. There are the Ukrainian ornaments that speak so intimately about our adoption journey and our time in Ukraine. And there are the ornaments my grandmother gave to me as a wedding present---a little piece left from my Mexican homeland and family---the same wooden stars and wooden horses that I held in my hands as a child as I helped my grandmother decorate her tree. Every ornament brings with it a flash of memories, and a prayer of thankfulness for God’s provision and presence in my life.
I love lights, inside and outside of homes. Lights that wrap around a Christmas tree, highlighting the ornaments, highlighting the blessings and the goodness that God has shined throughout my life. I am reminded that Jesus is the light of the world, who stepped down into darkness and opened my eyes. As I drive around and lights shine in people’s homes, I pray for them. I pray that they will know the light of the world, that they will know Jesus.
God gives good gifts. He has given me many. Material things will never compare to the gift of life He gives us. However, for me, presents are a tangible way in which I can show the people I love that I appreciate them, and that I am thankful they are part of my life. It is also wonderful time to teach my girls that a giving heart is indeed a gift to God. What can we give to bless others?
I find Christmas music to be moving. It is through these songs that I reflect on the enormity of God becoming man. A God, so big, humbling Himself to walk among us, to be one of us. What a great God I serve!
The scent of candles, cinnamon, evergreen, and peppermint are simply enjoyable. Ellie, my oldest, has a heightened sense of smell. To watch her breathing in those scents always brings a smile to my face.
The abundance of food, again, reminds me of God’s provision. A pastor’s family in a small church, we are not a picture of wealth. Yet, we have never lacked anything at all. All our needs have been provided, and as we feast during Christmas, we are reminded that God has given to us in plenty, and for that reason we give and we share.
Our family is spread far and wide, across States and across countries. It is during Christmas that we gather and spend time together. Often times, our memories are from the moments that we share during Christmas.
I rarely think of Jesus as a baby. Quite honestly, it is hard for me to grasp and understand how a little baby was indeed the Savior of this world. Yet, He was. His entrance into this world was meek yet majestic at the same time. Meek, as his birth took place in a manger. Majestic, as a choir of angels appeared declaring that the Savior was born and a bright star led the way. That must have been a sight to see! Those shepherds surely witnessed a choir like no other!
I often think about Mary during Christmas. Therefore, it will be of no surprise to you that my favorite songs are “Mary Did You Know, “ and “Breath of Heaven.” I simply cannot imagine to be the one chosen. I do wonder if she ever had second thoughts about her qualifications, if she felt inadequate. As a mother, I can somehow relate to Mary, and the enormity of the great honor she was given.
John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
All I want is Jesus, all I need is Him. And it is my prayer, that in this season, you will know Him too. That your heart will become His dwelling place, bringing you life, life to the full.