For the past several years, I've written a series of posts throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas day. It's a series meant to keep me on track. Since having kids, I've found it's too easy to get caught up in the magical, Santa Clausical version of the Christmas story and forget about the most meaningful reason to celebrate this season. Don't get me wrong, I will take plenty of time to put on a fake white beard and roll around in the reindeer food scattered around our house. I'm committed, though, to reflect daily on where this story began. And where it all ends.
As I was sitting in church Sunday, I looked up on the shelf that wraps around the New Song sanctuary. That's where I saw the perfect image to begin my month - the perfect photograph to begin this year's series. Taking in that breathtaking scene Sunday, I heard the words come from our pastor:
Then Isaiah said:
Hear now, you house of David!
Is it not enough to try the patience of humans?
Will you try the patience of my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
And will call him Immanuel.
This was Isaiah, hundreds of years before the arrival of our Savior, foretelling of Jesus' coming. I looked up at that manger scene and imagined the sense of anticipation people must have had back then. Anticipation undisturbed by elves sitting on shelves and people trampling one another to snag the last $99 Vizio Black Friday big screen at Best Buy. They were a people who recognized their hearts were broken and that no Christmas carol on earth was going to sing them back together. They NEEDED a Savior.
As I get older I love the idea of squeezing several hundred years into one month of December. It's my chance to hear the echo of the prophets' words and count down the days until Jesus arrives. Only I get to know the when and where - I get to look up at the manger scene. It's my chance to receive God's sign and be reminded that what He did once was only the beginning. He is coming again. To plow through this season with the ferocity of a six year old opening an Xbox from Santa and not take time to feel the anticipation, to consider what it all meant and what it all will mean, is to reduce the most important moment in my life to just another elementary school birthday party. One where Santa shows up of course.
Again, I do look forward to the magic of the season. I look forward to the excitement in our boys' eyes and wrapping paper getting ravaged in much the same manner I dispose of a cheeseburgers. But more than that, I look forward to sharing Pastor Chad's words with them. That as little as we may truly understand about this season, and in spite of the few details I can offer up about the day when Jesus comes again - that final Christmas - I can share that in trusting Him, I've discovered that this baby we celebrate is an amazing God. He has done amazing things in my life. And I look forward to counting down the days December 1 to 25 - and beyond - anticipating his arrival.