Come voices and footsteps bouncing off the wall.
The single ornament hung on the Peanuts Christmas tree,
With no other decorations, yet November still it be.
The children talked of presents to be had,
In hopes Santa thought they'd been good, not bad.
Time for Cyber Monday shopping and Christmas cards,
And maybe a game of kickball out in the yard.
Our preparation may look a little different than yours,
Less wrapped presents and more wrapped doors,
Before you think we're just trying to save cents,
Remember Christmas is not about presents, but presence.
I love poems, and I think they just sound better than regular words. The days have been flying by. In college, it seemed like three days after Thanksgiving, it was time for Christmas. For some reason, I thought without finals to study for and papers to write, it would be different.
In Sunday School this week, we were talking about purity of heart and the duplicity and multiplicity we get caught up on that causes us to lose our focus on Jesus. Purity of heart is seeking one thing; it's that easy. This topic wasn't new to me, because I'd used the chapter we read from Ortberg as a basis to a bible study a few weeks ago. It got me thinking that every year we talk about wanting to slow down, but we never do anything to actually make it happen. Now, I am 100% guilty of this, but this is that duplicity, saying one thing but meaning another. We want everything to slow down, but we're unwilling to give up a few things that busy our lives and want it seem to go too fast.
I want to take a minute to reflect on the things about the holiday season that make it go too fast. What are we caught up doing that is so important?
3. Wrapping all those gifts
5. Writing and sending Christmas cards
6. Organizing Christmas/Holiday parties
The problem with this list is that we see nothing wrong with it. These are all wonderful things that bring joy to us and the ones around us, right? Maybe, but even if your Christmas is about selfless giving, it's still about the gifts. This is the biggest problem, in my opinion, that pulls our attention away from that one thing, Jesus. Really want to slow down this Christmas? Try something new. Purify your heart. Remove everything from Christmas besides Jesus.
In bible study yesterday, we discovered some very important things about Christmas. I'm going to summarize them for you, even though the details are quite amazing.
1. It's Jesus' birthday, not ours. All of us look around not only for presents for our friends and family, but also make our own list. It's interesting that on the day we're supposed to be celebrating Jesus' birth, His name doesn't make it on our gift list.
2. We seem to have traded Jesus for Santa Claus. Santa brings presents, but Jesus gives presence. Immanuel means "God with us". For some reason, presents have become more important than presence.
3. Christmas isn't about warm-fuzzy feelings. Unlike our popular Christmas carols' depiction, Jesus' birth wasn't all fine and dandy. You say, "Oh ya, I know, he was born in a stable." But have you considered that Mary, the woman who delivered the miracle, was poor, young(12 or 13), from Nazareth (the wrong side of the tracks), and an unwed pregnant woman? Appropriately, tomorrow is "Pins and Needles Day". The real Christmas was less about warm-fuzzies and more about poverty and anxiety.
So, what does that mean for us? Christmas is a time for miracles. Jesus' birth was miraculous, and God calls us to be miracle workers. He syas, "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." To nourish the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned and sick is our duty, but it's also an act of love. This Christmas, instead of making a list a mile long of things to do, prepare your heart, purify your heart, and try to find a gift suitable for Jesus.
Remember, he's all about presence, not presents.