The waiting is over. Christ is born!
Words don’t seem to do it justice.
I’ve had this feeling before—occasions when my heart has actively awaited some exciting event, only to find it trivialized by words when I later try to relay it.
November 18, 1984 comes to mind.
I was a freshman in high school in Omaha. After months of waiting, the moment had come: the first time that I would finally be in the same room with Bruce Springsteen.
My Bruce, my precious.
My friends Katie and Ruth Ann had camped out for the coveted tickets weeks before and bestowed one upon me. I recall everything about that night. I remember meticulously choosing my pink cowl-neck sweater and stone-washed, pleat-front, Guess jeans as the optimal outfit for this first encounter with the Boss. I remember sitting next to my twin sister, Mia, in the car on the way to the arena and the drive feeling like it took hours. I remember Bruce coming out on stage in a simple white T-shirt and jeans, opening with his anthem, “Born in the U.S.A.”
But then, it ended. That’s how it goes with things of this world. They have limits.
And that is why the birth of the Eternal King is unlike every other affair worthy of our anticipation and elation. It is in another stratosphere altogether. Because the worldly things that provide us with happiness are not lasting. Only He is.
He is the concert that never ends.
On the day of his birth, God gifts us with a King who is eternally accessible to us. He bestows to us a Savior we can approach at any time. Christmas is not limited to the restrictions of venue or audience. Christmas is for everyone, in every place, at every time.
We don’t need to camp out for tickets to attend Christ’s arrival. We receive a front-row seat without any price for admission. We are offered full freedom to respond to his presence in our lives. He loves us that much.
So how can I make Christmas an active part of my daily faith life, and not just a day to catalog new memories like my first date with the Boss?
Who better to look to than the star witnesses themselves? Enter Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi.
Mary responded to the angel Gabriel with complete acceptance: “Let it be to me according to your word.” She cooperated with God’s will despite the seeming impossibility of it all. Mary invites me to consider how cooperative I am with God’s will for me. What might I be resistant to that God is inviting me to carry for him?
Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, loyally accompanied Mary in the face of the most unconventional circumstances. He is a beacon for me to grow in devotion to my own family, and to foster a greater appreciation for the family in our culture. Am I praying for my family and friends to grow closer to God? Am I teaching my children how to pray? Do I welcome those who are estranged from their own families?
The shepherds are told to “be not afraid,” by the angel of the Lord who shares the good news of the birth of Christ. Despite their fear, they moved briskly ahead to see Jesus and then shared what they had witnessed. Their example prompts me to ponder how readily I am turning to Christ with my fears and insecurities. Am I trusting God with everything, or trying to manage the darker corners of my life according to my own will? Am I willing to share the truth of my faith with others, just as the shepherds did?
The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They inspire me to consider the material and spiritual gifts that I have to offer others, even those outside of my inner circle. Am I using the gifts God gave me for my own benefit, or for his glory? Am I using my gifts to reach those outside the margins?
When I allow myself to be fully receptive to all that Christmas offers, it becomes so much more than an event with a beginning and an end. It inclines to something profound: an ongoing, personal encounter with our Savior. And that is a song worth singing.