I bet lots of people have lots of ideas about what Christmas should be. Think about it with me; if you go there, traditions start popping up like April dandelions along a highway—don’t they? For some it’s egg rolls on Christmas Eve; for others, it’s bedtime stories and hot chocolate. For us, in case you are wondering, it’s always been my father’s house. It’s where I’ve always gone, even after I flew the nest, even on years where it wasn’t where I particularly wanted to be, even yesterday. The menu doesn’t matter anymore; some people have come and many have left. There are missing spirits, and still, we are there. We are whole.
My Christmas days of years past are colored lovely, albeit dysfunctional at times. I’ve been different places at different times, but for the last eight years, I’ve been at home. Here, our traditions are making up what I think Christmas should be. There is cuddling under the covers in the eve’s wee hours; there are excited predawn whispers that dance about in the hallway until it is just the right moment to leap forth; there are cinnamon rolls and coffee; the words on everyone’s lips are “thank you.” This is how it is. We will never have a Christmas without cinnamon rolls. Or so we like to think.
It’s only within the last few years, though, that I’ve understood what Christmas should be. What Christmas is, regardless of who accepts it.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’” —Matthew 1:18
No matter how hard I try, I cannot wrap my mind around this: the everlasting glory of the Creator of the universe, wrapped up in a baby—all to save my soul because I am loved. Because God is love. It is the most beautiful light, capturing my heart more and more strongly until I can barely breathe. Until it doesn’t matter what we get, or what we do, or who’s here, because I Am is among us. And He came to save.
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” —Ephesians 3:14–21
Dear friends, how I hope you are filled with this wonder at a love so powerful, true, and faithful that we cannot grasp its measure. How I pray you will let it stream into your life until there is no darkness. I do wish you a most Merry Christmas.