Watching Christmas unfold through the eyes of children is truly a special sight. When my oldest was three, we were traveling through New York City. And there outside one of the train stations we came upon a giant Christmas Tree. With wide wondrous eyes, she exclaimed “WOW this is a lot of Christmas here!” She was overwhelmed by the display as it was bigger than anything else she had seen. Every year since with bright awestruck eyes she points out every decorated Christmas tree she sees. And that is just one beautiful example of Christmas decorations – there are plenty: from snowmen to Rudolph. From snow globes to stockings; from wreaths to poinsettias; this is the holiday for decorating. Stores begin putting Christmas decorations up earlier and earlier each year – now as early as September. But whenever they get taken out and put up the tradition of decorating during this season is contagious. Some may decorate for Easter and fewer yet will decorate for lent, advent, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and no one ever decorates their home for occasions like Pentecost. But Christmas is the one Christian holiday we all do.
And so we celebrate the birth of the baby with such color and excitement that it is easy to forget that Jesus’ beginning was anything but. In fact one might consider his entrance into this world to very dull. It is pretty specular that from such a humble birth God’s wonder was revealed to be bigger then we all imagined. That through the simple baby God’s grace was brought into this world. Mary delivered a baby whose life was bigger than she could imagine – trusting God she pondered all these prophesies in her heart. And a simple little package, a humble baby wrapped in bands of cloth lying the manger became the greatest gift we come to know on Earth – our Savior Christ! WOW
No wonder we want to spread this message of love, hope, joy and peace through cheer and decoration; through vivid colors and bright presents; through bows and packages bright until our awestruck eyes glimmer with joy exclaiming “Merry Christmas One and All!”
Today, we heard the Good News of Luke – the angels spoke to the awestruck Shepherd who in wonder and amazement thought “wow, that was an angel – could this be real?” And in that moment they searched in order to find, the greatest gift of all, the infant Savior.
But the greatest decorations and the brightest and biggest packages under the tree are triumphed when we remember what is offered to us through our faith and trust in Christ. You see the Shepherds who were tending their sheep believed and followed the angels instructions and came upon the infant and with awestruck eyes the angels truth was told.
It would have been pretty incredible to be one of those shepherds to have witness the angel speak and the heavenly host singing praises. That would have been a sight for sure and surely enough to make one believe…but unfortunately none of us are old enough to have been witness that. And yet we still believe! None of us saw the infant Jesus wrapped and lying in a manger and YET we have come to know Christ in our own ways and have come to feel his love and to believe. One does not have see to believe one has to feel to know. And we have all felt the love of Christ throughout our lives.
Sometimes God’s love seems as big and bright and as full as our Christmas decorations. There are many “big” events in our life in which we are sure that God grace is filling our hearts and we know that the presence of the Holy is here. But much of our lives is pretty ordinary. Much of our lives isn’t spent in anticipation of God’s grace, isn’t spent with decorations reminding us of his love. Much of our lives isn’t spent believing without doubt.
The shepherds left Mary and her infant knowing that the things the angel told them were true and they came to pass. Mary was left pondering all that had happened in her heart. This Christmas let us remember that through a humble beginning God brought us the greatest gift of all – through an ordinary women God’s son was born. Without lights or presents Jesus was born into this world on a dark evening vulnerable and without shelter.
Whatever we may be without this Christmas season let us be filled with the love that God had for us knowing that he sent his only son to come to know humanity not for the awestruck wonder of our lives sometimes but for the quiet and vulnerable moments that make up most of our lives. And that the biggest present doesn’t fit under the tree and can’t be wrapped for it is God’s grace and mercy. Let us accept the amazing grace that is the Christ Child and spread the love of God now and forever knowing and pondering that God has even more planned for us.