I hope that your Christmas season was filled with happiness and joy and my further wish for you is that the joy of this holiday season lasts a very long time into the new year.
Last week I wrote about the Twelve Days of Christmas and reminded many that those 12 days are not the final 12 shopping days of the season but the 12 days of the season on the Christian Calendar. Those days represent the days between the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the arrival of the Magi with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
During the days prior to Christmas there are many preparations for the holiday and many of the demands upon our time involved parts of Christmas that are more secular than spiritual. We worry about sending out Christmas cards and letters, buying gifts, wrapping packages, planning meals, inviting friends and family, caroling, shopping, parties to host or attend, and decorating.
We worry and we fret over the details of the holiday because we want them to be perfect. Then reality sets in. Our holiday celebrations are never the perfect celebrations because we are human and things happen. We just accept what is and move on. Spills occur and candles drip all over the tablecloth. Somebody forgets to bring the brown-and-serve rolls and sometimes the turkey gets a little more done than we like. Family holidays are like that. It isn’t the Hollywood version and for that we should all be grateful. The important aspect of the celebration with the family is that the family and the friends are together.
During the time of preparation many in this area did a great deal to ensure that others had a great Christmas. The stores ordered in the right items for us to gift to one another. That takes planning and preparation. The markets ordered in the quantities of food we like in the amounts we consume so that our tables were ladened with our favorite items.
The Marine Corps League took care of getting gifts for those children who might not have had anything under the tree Christmas morning, and because of their planning and preparation during the entire year yesterday was a good day for many in the Mountain Area.
Schools hosted concerts and pageants that helped ring in the holiday. All that work started in late September or early October just to entertain us. The bell ringers for Manna House set up schedules that ensured coverage for those times at each market. A great deal of planning to make the holidays specia for others.
But during all of the holiday festivities celebrating with Santa’s and reindeer we need to focus on the real important aspect of Christmas. We needed to use the season of Advent to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Christmas to be meaningful.
Mary and Joseph did not worry about the holiday aspects as they prepared for the birth of their son. Here she was - a teenage girl, pregnant and unmarried, who had selected as a favored person by God to bear this baby. Single mothers today don’t face scorn. In Mary’s day it brought threats and ridicule. There was Joseph, a man of the House of David, who accepted what an angel had told him and agreed to marry Mary and raise Jesus. He had taken on a wife who was with child that wasn’t his and he lived with the comments and the under the breathe remarks.
They had done what was necessary in their lives to be prepared for the role that was to be thrust upon them. A role for which they could never have imagined for themselves. A role that would end for Mary at the foot of a cross on Calvary looking up at her son suffering and dying.
The Magi had to make preparations for their lengthy trip that lasted a very long time. These men did not travel alone or lightly. The caravan had to involve a logistical nightmare for somebody but the role was important and the work had to be done.
So a baby born in a manger as foretold in scripture and people who came together to help with his birth, his life, and his ministry and then those who for the past 2,000 years have continued the work and the planning and the preparations are all an important part of the celebration of Christmas and the tying together of this holiday with that of Easter for without Christmas there would be no Easter and without Easter there would be no reason to celebrate the birth.
On my family Christmas tree we always hang an Easter egg ornament and three golden balls to remind us of the tie to Easter and the three balls to the spirit of giving by Saint Nicholas.
For unto us a child is born