Christmas these days seems to stress people out more than give them the joy that it was meant to give. As people get busier and busier, they find themselves always looking down: at the next text message, the next email, the next status update on Facebook. What has all this racing around, looking down at some electronic device done? Could it be that the stress so often accompanying this time of year is of our own making? It’s made us forget times that were simpler…Christmases past that seemed to hold more magic, more beauty, more imagination.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking down for a while and start to notice things again. Today we have a Christmas Moon—a rare event– a full moon on Christmas Day. It’s the first time in nearly four decades that that has happened, and it won’t happen again for another 19 years. The sky was beautiful last night, and the moon was bright. It’s not politically correct any more to say “Merry Christmas” or to even use THAT WORD in some places (like our public schools), but last night’s sky, at least where I was, reminded me of that first Christmas that gave us this opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ every year.
Even though we don’t know the exact date of the Savior’s birth, it still started with a starry night and Wise Men from the East who had been observing the nighttime skies and studying ancient prophesies for quite some time before they noticed one star in particular. It seemed to be different from the others—bigger, brighter, and more magnificent. So they followed it, for what may have been as long as 2 years after the actual birth. When they found the Young King and His parents, they presented him with precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Regular folks like shepherds found Him too (even sooner than the learned mean of means did)…and the Bible tells us the child’s mother treasured all of these things in her heart. She took nothing for granted, and I can imagine that every year that went by as he grew into a boy, then a man, that she looked back with awe and fondness on the Holy Night when she first held her child in her arms.
It’s often said, “Christmas is for kids”. How wrong people are who say that. I don’t think you can really appreciate all that this season and this day has to offer until you have some wisdom of years behind you. You may not remember every gift you got for Christmas over the years, but you most likely will recall the stories of Christmases past—funny or poignant moments that you talk about together around a table full of good things to eat. Stories that are told year after year and they never seem to get old—some get even better with each retelling. Like the young woman Mary of the manger scene, you’ve been storing up those treasures of memories in your heart. They don’t get old, wear out, need batteries or fall apart after 3 days.
If you’ve been stressed out for the last several days or weeks because you were preparing for this day, consider trying something new next year: re-focus on what Christmas really is about. Before this becomes Christmas past, set aside the distractions and look around you. Return to the manger, Follow the star.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!