I’ve made it through another Christmas. As an extreme introvert and a church secretary, the whole Christmas season can be challenging—Twice as much work to do in half the time, lots of people everywhere I look, and to quote the Grinch, “Oh the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!” But every year I look forward to it and join in on as much of the fun as I am able because, even though it can be difficult, it is so worth the moment I see my mother’s eyes light up when she opens the gift I spent two weeks making for her, receive a heartfelt hug from my niece or nephew, or talk over childhood memories with cousins I was too old to play with when we were young. And now that it’s all over, I can get back to my quiet, uneventful daily living with the warmth of new memories that make my face break out in a smile. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? For a brief moment, I thought so too. But then I looked at the calendar board in my office and saw that Easter isn’t that far off!!
I can’t help but to replay in my mind a line from Ann Weems poem “Holding” which was read at our Christmas Eve worship service just a few days ago:
On our way back from Bethlehem
sometimes we forget
what we’ve been warned about in a dream:
to return another way.
Looking forward to getting back to my quiet, uneventful daily living…isn’t that like returning the same way in which I went to Bethlehem? After traveling through Advent to the manger in Bethlehem where our God and Savior did the unimaginable, unexplainable, impossible feat of pouring himself into the confines of humanity as an infant—how can I go back to my daily life untouched and unchanged by what I have seen. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
I’ve gone to humble surroundings of a manger to see with my own eyes, worship, and give my gift to my God, my Savior, my King—Jesus. Even as I celebrated “God with us” I couldn’t overlook the shadow of the cross that fell upon the manger. God came to be with us, to love us, teach us, die for us, and live again for us. He came to save us and I can’t look at the babe lying on that hay bed without appreciating why he was among us – to redeem us and reestablish relationship with us.
The celebration of Christmas might be over, but God being with us doesn’t end and that’s what I want to take with me every day. As I head into the new year, I will journey away from Bethlehem with the intention of leaving by a different route than I came. Wherever I go, I know that God came into this world to be with me and he is with me.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!