For the first 12 years, our boys hung their stockings on a faux-mantel. Our parsonage lacked a fireplace, so I crafted one from some old barn wood. Two strings of twinkling Christmas lights, woven into the fire scene, painted onto a bed sheet, sparkled and danced with holiday cheer. Trial-by-error stress testing proved the whole pseudo-hearth needed three screws secured to separate wall studs to uphold the Christmas joy packed into 1 dog’s, 2 kid’s, 2 parent’s, and 4 grandparent’s stockings! Fortunately Santa brought a cordless drill.
This year, we put up 4 trees at the Purdue house. Yes, that is not a typo; a wacko maybe, but not a typo! It is fun. Still I wonder if our current cultural Christmas experience is akin to people building a great bonfire, without a match. We engage in a great assembling of all the supporting pieces without much thought to spark that fuels our Christmas joy. A McDonald’s ad talks about getting your holiday spirit back with peppermint coffee. We get our evergreen from the Kiwanis or the attic. We pull out boxes of lights and shiny sentimental decorations. We swipe our cards seeking to give a little Christmas to others and ourselves. We stream special music, consume classic movies, and prepare special foods. We try to assemble all our friends and family. Sometimes we leave one party to get to the next. We assemble all these parts, parties, gifts, gatherings, greenery, dishes, deserts, disks, sounds, specials, stresses, smells, sentiments, and sights trying to kindle something.
As the song chirps “Oh, yes we need a little Christmas, Right this very minute” the un-asked question stands silent: “What is all this activity and assembling about?” What is the spark? Why exert all this energy? How long will the effort warm our hearts?
Christmas peace, love and joy come from Christ. Our souls are re-kindled in: worship, generous giving (without thought of reward or return), prayer, Advent candles shared around the breakfast table, devotional reading, carols sung in church, quiet moments taken by a lit tree, gratitude for special food, and thankfulness for all we have. My deepest prayer is that we would all not neglect the worship of Lord. Only in Christ will we find a lasting Christmas. Only Christ warms the depths of our souls.
Have fun. Let Chevy Chase or Charlie Brown bring a laugh. Eat a special treat. Hang a stocking. Make a toast. Put up four trees. Don’t trust Christmas to the trappings; worship, pray, pause and listen for the good tidings of greatest joy- the coming Christmas child.