Monday, December 5, 2011

Rediscover Joy

I used to love this time of year.

Before I grew up.

Before I discovered that buying Christmas presents on a budget is hard work.
Before I longed to be in two places at once.
Before I spent hours cleaning, preparing, shopping, wrapping.
Before I realized that all those decorations would have to be taken down in a few weeks . . . by me.
Before I had somewhere to be fifteen out of twenty-five nights.

Before Christmas became synonymous with exhaustion.

Because before . . . I would fly through the door and run to the tree. Had mom wrapped more while I was at school? Was there another gift for me?
Before . . . I would rearrange the gifts, shaking, weighing, trying to guess. Never peeking, because the anticipation was almost as much fun as whatever delight lay hidden beneath the wrapping.
Before . . . I would huddle with my sister as we planned Christmas morning. When would we get up? Would she promise to wake me if she woke up first?
Before . . . I would go to sleep listening to the twenty-four hours of Christmas music (that started on Christmas Eve instead of the day after Thanksgiving).
Before . . . the day was filled with gifts—given & received, family, food, fun.

Before . . . Christmas was synonymous with joy.

This year, I'm making an effort to re-discover the joy. My calendar isn't quite as crowded as it has been in year's past, and I'm relieved. My to-do list—well, it's insane. But I'm focusing on doing the things that need to be done and leaving off the stuff that can wait.

I've cranked up the music, downloaded a new album (Michael Bublé!), bought a few presents, and decorated the tree. At night, I'm taking a few moments to sit in the flickering light of candles and remember . . . remember what it was like . . . before the first Christmas.

Before . . . the sounds of angels in perpetual worship.
Before . . . perfect harmony with God the Father and God the Spirit.
Before . . . peace, joy, comfort.
Before . . . honor, reverence.
Before . . . glory.

But then He came.

To the sound of cattle, sheep, and donkeys
To a people in continual tension with their Roman rulers and religious leaders.
To cold, wet, hunger, pain.
To anger, gossip, slander, humiliation, misunderstanding.

To exhaustion.

To death.

As a child, I knew the real meaning of Christmas. I knew there was a baby. I knew we exchanged gifts to commemorate the Ultimate gift. But my young mind was full of Sear's Wish Books and shiny packages.

I didn't dwell on the miracle.

But for my slightly more grown up mind, I think the secret to rediscovering the joy is to rediscover the miracle.

Christmas was always about the gifts. It still is. But the Gift that brings joy these days isn't one that sits under the tree wrapped in shiny paper.

It's the One that lay in a feeding trough wrapped in rags.

Immanuel – God with us. Isaiah 7:9 ~ Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)

Join me this month as we rediscover the joy of the season.

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The winner of last week's giveaway is....Vicki! Congratulations! Email me at lynnhblackburn@gmail.com with your contact information and the fine folks at Baker will mail My Favorite Bible to you! Thanks to everyone who participated!
Reactions:

6 comments:

Tom Threadgill said...

I can certainly relate! Looking forward to reading more.

Susie said...

I'm glad your schedule is lighter.It's hard to decide what to leave off the todo list. Thanks for a good reminder to focus on the miracle instead of carnal things like "will the Christmas play come together in the next 2 weeks?" and will I ever get the house decorated?
"For unto us a Son is born"

Kristi Butler said...

Well said, Lynn. We surely need to take the time to experience the joy and peace of the season.

Blessings!

keiki hendrix said...

The Christmas season.... It does send us to our memories. So thankful for those memories and for the new ones we make each year.

thebudgetmaven said...

Lynn,

I can so relate to the loss of joy you've experienced around Christmas instead of the joy of the miracle given as the first Christmas gift. I felt the lack of joy today as I trudged through aisles and aisles of meaningless toys, gift baskets filled with cheese and crackers, and the latest and greatest in technology looking for a gift for literally everyone!

Thanks for the reminder to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not get bogged down with all the other junk.

amy said...

Awesome reflections.