The holidays are upon us. Christmas trees are going up. Party invitations are going out. Those lovely commercials, where everyone is smiling around a table full of food and agreeable conversation, are airing nearly every thirty seconds. Road trips, hot chocolate, Christmas pageants and parades make up the content of our lives for the next twenty five days. The mall, the stores, and the cash registers advocate for us to get busy spending and shopping. And we will. We will do it all because it’s what we do. Much of it will be wonderful, some may even be wonder-filled. However, I think before we sink all the way into the Christmas coma, for better or worse, waking up in January exhausted and over full, I think we might ought to ask one question.
ARE THESE THE HOLIDAYS OR THE HOLY-DAYS?
Holy by definition, and yes I looked it up, just to be sure, means:
exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness , divine <for the Lord our God is holy — Psalms 99:9, devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity <a holy temple> <holy prophets> having a divine quality <holy love> venerated as or as if sacred <holy scripture> <a holy relic>
I shuttered when I realized the consequential truth of this definition. At this time of year we are devoted, entirely. Yet the question lies in the subject of our devotion? To whom are we giving our days, our hours, our thoughts, our money, our energy, our efforts?
Finding myself waking up earlier than normal the last few days, I’ve spent a few hours in the stillness of silence. Watching the soft white lights on our Christmas tree shimmer against the darkness of a sun yet to rise, I’ve gotten caught up in the mystery of these holidays. Mary and Joseph come to mind, traveling to Bethlehem, following the message of God delivered by an angel, and I can’t help but marvel at the TRUST, the sheer ruthless trust of those two newlyweds. Do I trust like that?
Wise men, shephards, a single bright star, a manger, it’s as though they are coming to me, off the pages of scripture, positing questions. Not judgements, just gentle questions, that have given me great pause.
IN LIGHT OF THESE HOLY-DAYS, WHO AM I?
When the Spirit of God comes to me, do I utter like Mary, “be unto me as you have said”? Have I ever said that? I think I am guilty of something more like, “now, can we discuss this Lord, I mean what kind of trust are we talking about here? How am I going to be affected if I let go with this wild abandon? “
The star shining in the east…do I see the signs? Do I even look for them? Emmanuel, God with us, and yet, do I see Him? Honestly, I think I wake up and fall asleep realizing I forgot to watch for where He was, for what was pointing me closer to Him.
The wisemen. Do I give? Who do I give to? What do I give? Frankincense, gold, myrrh. Are the gifts I give an offering or a token of my stopping by the mall?
These are not just the stories of a Christmas long ago in a town few of us have been to. Every single detail of the journey to the manger is one I am called to take right here, right now, not in Bethlehem, but in Franklin. I must confess I am shocked by this incredible invitation. For so many years I have read the gospel accounts of what we call Christmas, seeing them as stories of something I wasn’t present to witness. It is not so. Most of memorialized history reflects something or someone that was. However, unlike any other history before or since, the history of Christmas is present. It is now. Christ is not someone that was, he is someone who is. Jesus is not a story I can only read, He is a story that is unfolding right now. That star, the one that guided the shepherds to His manger, the wise men to His side, that very star, He currently sustains with a light as bright now as it was then. The star that points to Him still shines. Have you seen it?
—-sending you love wherever you are in the world, Tyler