Updated: May 15, 2020
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
~ John 1:1-14 (NIV)
On this most holy of nights, I try my best to take meaningful moments of stillness to think on the manger… in front of the fire, by the light of a tree… sweet sweet stillness.
They’re some of my favorite moments of the whole year.
And, if I’m being real, they’re far more rare than I’d like.
This was my 29th year singing Christmas Eve and Christmas services for the same church.
More often than not, it’s running from family moments to rehearsals, to services, to grabbing a few precious hours of sleep before I have to run to an early Christmas Day service; while my family waits “patiently” at home so we can begin our traditions. Gifts, music, The Sound of Music (don’t ask me why,) specken (a family specialty,) and turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
That’s the way it's been in all of my memories.
Things are different now that Mom is gone, we’re finding our way to new traditions… slowly.
But for us all, culture wide it seems, there’s something frenetic about the Christmas Season.
I know it’s certainly not a new message, but it’s no less relevant in its redundancy… we must learn to be still.
In the midst of all of the crazy this year, between wrapping and unwrapping gifts, between cups of hot cocoa and meals with loved ones...
Do yourself the favor of taking a moment to get present to the greatest gift of all, lain in a manger, brought to this world to wipe away the eternal consequence of every poor choice...
To run into the judgment room in the critical moment like a big brother protecting a younger sibling and say, “It was me, I did it! Punish me!!”
Goodness, what a gift!
One other thing I’d like to touch upon…
I've seen some interesting, perhaps less than "Christian" commentary of late. Here’s the deal friends, Jesus wasn’t born on the 24th of December. Historians actually believe the birth of Yeshua to have fallen very near the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. So, there's really no reason to get feisty about a day seemingly arbitrarily chosen, ya know what I mean?
A sweet childhood friend of mine recently put it so well, I couldn’t possibly say it better…
"Jesus is the reason for the season. The rest is just for fun!"
So, yes, I believe we should remember the reason for the season and commemorate/honor His birth well, but I also believe family traditions, the making of memories, quality time together, and lovely lights are a wonderful thing. There are christians out there who will tell you that the trappings of the Christmas holiday are… well, exactly that.
But, I would suggest that as long as we remember what is being commemorated and take it to heart, as well as remember not to allow consumerism to take over, the rest of the celebrations can be such a precious and powerful part of life for you and your loved ones… I say, do it up!
A little extra kindness, generosity, love, and light in the world? Yes, please!!
I was reading a lovely article about Christmas on the Jews for Jesus website and, as someone who does my best to acknowledge both Christmas and Chanukah, I would love to leave you with this as one final thought for consideration in future celebrations…
“For those who do seek to observe both Christmas and Hanukkah, we encourage you to meditate on the connection between the Hanukkah lights and the light shed by the Messiah. During another holiday, Sukkot, Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12, ESV) He said this when it was customary to light large lampstands in the Temple for Sukkot. It is hard to ignore that there is a connection also between Jesus and the Hanukkah lights, especially when we consider that the central component of the menorah is the shammos. The shammos candle is used to light all of the other candles. Shammos literally means servant, and for Jewish believers Jesus is the greatest shammos of all, ‘who came not to be served but to serve.’ (Matthew 20:28, ESV)”
“Jesus, like the servant candle on the Hannukiah, lights our way, and sends His Spirit to ignite us as well, so that we can shine His light in a dark world. We do not have enough ‘oil’ to live a life dedicated to God, but Jesus has miraculously provided for us.” ~ David Brickner, “The Hanukkah/Christmas Connection”
So, my beautiful, beautiful friends… May we all be a light on a hill, this Christmas and always.
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." ~ John 1:4-5 (NKJV)
"Be still, and know that I am God." ~ Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
"Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.'" ~ John 8:12 (BSB)
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
Bonus song of praise... ♥