My childhood memories of Christmas include an annual photo-shoot with my brother. We sat as still as we could and pretended to like touching each other while the photographer lined up to snap the photo that hangs in my parents’ hallway.
As I grew up, I learned to raise my hands more in class and test my knowledge of different subjects. Even if I wasn’t sure on something, I needed to take a shot at it…especially if it was on a test!
I’ve never been a fan of sports – my Achilles heel is my difficulty in aiming the ball, wad of paper, or frisbee. But after a two-month recreational basketball league last winter, I learned that I can get better with lots of practice, and hit the basket a good majority of the time.
Where am I going with this? Did you know that it is almost Thanksgiving? And that Christmas is the next big holiday?!? My prayer this year is that I do not focus so much on all the things I need to do, and move, and be, and see, and experience that I miss the point. Why do we celebrate Christmas? It is not about throwing a big annual party and finally seeing long-lost relatives, eating lots of food, and exchanging gifts. Those are accessories to the main performance. The point is to remember – through music, song, food, celebration – the time when God had history lined up, and sent His Son to take a shot at saving the world. It took a long time. He was the only One who could succeed. And He did. But He focused His aim to the cross without getting distracted by how many people liked Him (or didn’t! – John 6:66-71), if it was fair what God was asking Him to do (John 5:30), or even what He felt like that day (John 4:32-34).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
God set up times in the calendar of Israel for celebration. But they were all centered around retelling the story of how God worked in their history. We lose so much by looking for new, and not holding on to the good we have already enjoyed. Do not forget to remember this year all that God has done and make it a tradition to look for the ways He is actively working.
God, thank You for celebration, and that You lined up history to save the world at just the right time. And Your timing is still good…though it seems long. Please help us to remember all You have done, and are doing, and celebrate the hope we have in You. Please help me to aim not for happiness this year, but for a deeper joy from sharing in such a rich story. Please line me up to do Your will. To You be the glory, Amen.