Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Taking Time to Ponder

There are so many things I love about Christmas. I do not love the shopping and the pressure to buy, buy, buy that is pushed at us from the commercials and the hype at all the stores starting the day after Halloween. I’ve already written about how I do not love the whole Santa thing. But I do love Christmas itself.

I like the glitter and shine of the decorations and lights, and I like the smell of the Christmas tree when we get it up. I don’t so much like the decorating, mind you, but I do so like the decorations. It’s fun to pull out old favorites and remember Christmases past as we decorate the tree and to put up the Nativity set each year. I don’t so much like the mess of all the boxes that have to be put away once the decorating is accomplished, but I love the way the house looks once it’s all decorated. I love to sit by the tree in the evening when it is quiet and watch the lights and think about what Christmas really means.

Once the day is over, however, I want the decorations down. I’m talking December 26, I’m ready to pack it all away. Enough is enough. It’s depressing to me to leave the tree up past New Year’s.

But this year I find that it is even more depressing to not put up a tree at all. Given that the movers are coming Monday (Monday I say!) to pack up the house, we did not put up Christmas decorations. I think Drew and I will do something small at the new house this weekend when I go up to visit him so we can surprise the kids when we bring them up in a couple of weeks and there will be some semblance of Christmas cheer and celebration, even though our furniture may not actually be delivered until after Christmas. Things are a little up in the air right now, and you all know how much I hate that, control nut that I still am. By the way, I noticed a gray hair this morning – right up front. Sigh. I hate to forego all the glitter altogether this year, what with it being the first year Boo is really interested in the lights and talking about Christmas every time we pass some house or store with decked halls, but this is how it is this year for the Sweet Tea family.

With our lives in the midst of the upheaval of moving house during the Advent and Christmas season this year, I’m finding it harder to sit still and take the time to ponder the wonder of the Incarnation, which, for me, is the most wonderful part of Christmas. I grew up as a Southern Baptist, and as such, we didn’t do much with ‘Advent.’ In fact, I had never even heard of it until I met my husband and went up north (to Indiana) and saw Advent wreaths in some of the churches. I think we missed something in ignoring that. I like the idea of taking the four weeks before Christmas to think about the prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah and thinking about how He fulfills them all perfectly. One of my very favorite Advent/Christmas carols is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It is hauntingly beautiful in its minor key as it speaks of the hope of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God, who is “God With Us,” Emmanuel. I love the poetic language speaking of Israel mourning in lonely exile until the Son of God appear, He who is our Dayspring, our Sunrise, who dispels the gloomy darkness and brings us His light, the Light of the World. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

So, today, I’m taking a (short) break from preparing for the movers to ponder again the wonder of Christmas, the majesty of the Incarnation, the glory of the announcement of the angels to lowly, ceremonially unclean shepherds that the Great Shepherd has come. And I’m taking time to remember that it does not end at the manger. The Baby grew to become the Man who took our sin and shame and bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. No longer in lonely exile, but reconciled to Holy God. And His light has been shown even to the Gentiles, that this poor sinner could be cleansed to sing His praise for all eternity. I am no longer blind and lost in sin, but clothed in His righteousness as He is seated at the right hand of the Father, ever interceding for His sheep, who hear His voice and whose names He knows and has written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Hallelujah, what a Savior! May I live in the light of His grace today, growing in the knowledge and grace of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!


Veronica said...

Our movers come Friday...No Christmas decorations for us this year either. I do have the Christmas music playing while I bubble-wrap china and tape boxes... :) But, in the craziness, pondering and celebrating the amazing gift that we have been given has kind of gotten lost. I may need to take some time out from the move this afternoon and do the same!

Rebekah said...

Happy moving! I hope all goes smoothly.

Lisa writes... said...

Ugh, moving is a lot of work! As you focus on the true Gift of Christmas, without all the excess "trimmings" (whether by choice or not!) may you find joy and peace!

Anonymous said...

We moved into our new house on Dec 7th (2003). It was mess. And then we left for Disney World on something like the 19th and came home on the 24th.

But I had to have some sort of decorations up! We bought a wee tree that year, about 2 feet tall, and tiny decorations. It was different, but looking back at the pictures of us hunched over or laying down in front of that tree makes for fond memories.

Hope your move goes smoothly.