Unwrapping Christmas

Like most of you, every year at Christmas I drag my decorations out of storage and attempt to create an atmosphere akin to a winter wonderland in my home. I always aim for simplicity, but tend to get carried away. Maybe because the number of boxes I pull out of the shed containing Christmas decorations is greatly disproportionate to the number of boxes containing the stuff related to the rest of our lives….I’m not sure.

Ok, I love Christmas, and maybe I have some decluttering to do. But that’s beside the point of this blog…at least for today. Chances are, we will hit that topic come January, so be looking for that!

In the meantime, let’s talk about this process of dragging out what is sacred and often reserved for special occasions. One of my most favorite things to unwrap at Christmas time is my collection of nativity scenes. I don’t have many, but it is a growing collection, and one which I cherish. (I also love unwrapping baby Jesus and the manger my husband made, but that was featured in a previous year’s Christmas blog so I’ll stick to the nativity scenes here).

One of the scenes I have is extremely delicate, and on the verge of falling apart. It’s so delicate that I’m not sure I want to have my husband fix it, because I’m afraid it wouldn’t survive the pressure of his tools. It’s made of real wood – though old and weathered and disintegrating. The characters are made of porcelain, beautifully fashioned and painted with the palest hues of color – just enough to give them the slightest shades of life. The frame of the stable is beautiful in its simplicity. I usually set this scene up as a centerpiece or focal point in my living room. Part of why I love it so much has to do with where it came from. It was a gift from someone I had the privilege of walking through recovery with. Each year as I unwrap it, I am reminded of the ways God touched that life, and of the warm privilege I had to witness it all.

My other favorite nativity scene is the first one I ever purchased. It is childishly simple – with little stained glass figures that look like they were designed by babes. But when you place tealight candles behind them, they glow with a sweet light that mesmerizes the soul. There is no pomp to them, but they speak of something glorious, pointing toward the heart of Christmas. And they remind me of our first Christmas as a family, so humble in our beginnings, and yet bursting with hope and promise for a wonderful life to come. Our faith was so new, so fresh, so simple. And out of that simple faith many blessings and promises have been birthed.

Unwrapping these treasures makes me realize that, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we so often put away the things that matter the most. The realities we are supposed to dwell and meditate upon tend to be reserved for special occasions, and while that is what makes the occasions special to begin with, this can make the rest of life very hard to endure through.

As I unwrap my Christmas decorations this year, I am stewarding grief and traumas and difficulties I wish I wasn’t, just like you. But there is something far more weighty and powerful stirring in my soul. The bigger these clouds of oppression seem to get and the more they loom over my life, the more my spirit seems to be rising. The more I feel a determination that is not from my own strength or resolve beginning to lend its arm to my season. The light shines brightest when the darkness seems its deepest. Hope is stirred in graves more than on mountaintops. God has a peculiar way of lifting His people up when it seems they have reached the limits of their ability to endure.

These precious nativity scenes are speaking. Do you hear what I hear, Dear Woman of Breakthrough? Christ has come! He is Immanuel, just as He was in the days when lonely, outcast shepherds – the nobodies of society – heard the good news. He is God with us, just as He was with a world in His dawning day that lay beneath the burden of oppression so thick it threatened to snuff out all hope. He is still here, and we are carriers of the light that never goes out!

We are not victims of any virus, nor subjects of any tyrants. We are children of the King of Kings, the Bride of Christ, and He is among us so that our hope might shine in this present darkness.

May your decorating and your celebrating be without limitation as you ponder the reality that lives inside of you! May you refuse to let your light be dimmed! May the spirit within you be revived by His Word over you: Behold, He has come!

If it was big enough news to stir a world from its slumber and sadness then, it is even bigger today. He is not a baby anymore, He is Christ the Lord – risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of our Father in Heaven. He prays for us, advocates for us, destroys the works of the enemy through us. And He has sent His Spirit for us to depend upon and be empowered by, in all of our troubles.

Let Christmas come, and let those who name Jesus as their Lord trim the trees, deck the halls, and merry their hearts with the joyous songs of worship that proclaim there is nothing that can keep us from the promises and faithfulness of our God. We, of all the people in the world, have great reason to rejoice, even as we weep with many sorrows.

I encourage you in the Lord today, Beloved One, to unwrap the beauty, the heart of Christmas this year, and to engage with the gift God has given us. There is beauty to behold and fresh grace to obtain. He is present with us and glorified as we find our delight in Him.

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

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