Greetings from a very warm part of the world! This is a far cry from the beautiful snowy Christmas season that we experienced for the past 5 Christmases in Ohio. Where is the jack frost that should be nipping at our noses? Just last night Corey and I were laughing about the fact that when we lived in California Christmastime wasn’t COLD, but you could still drive for a couple hours and arrive at snow, but here…we can’t even fly a couple hours to see snow! That’s how hot it is here - cold can't even come near us! So, I guess we can relate to the song, “White Christmas” - "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know..." Another difference here is that the atmosphere during this time of the year is very different as well…there isn’t Christmas music playing on the radio or in the stores here, there aren’t Christmas lights lining the streets, there's no such thing as “Holiday Sales,” and no Angel Tree stockings or Samaritan's Purse shoe boxes. These are some of the things that make up our Christmas season back in the States.
I confess, I do feel a little loss – not being able to drive through the snow-ladened streets, sipping hot chocolate, listening to my daughter sing along to “O Holy Night” on the radio as we look at Christmas lights adorned on our neighbor’s houses. Those moments are precious to me. Hearing of my friends going to the Chris Tomlin Glory in the Highest Christmas concert makes me miss home as those opportunities are not available here. Being able to attend Christmas shows and performances with friends and family. Not receiving Christmas cards from friends and family. Not being able to spend Christmas day with my mom – those things I will (and do) miss.
But, despite all those things not being present, I still have joy. Having those things taken away brings a bit of sadness, but it also brings freedom. We are free to worship Christ the way we want to, not the way our culture influences us to. We get to be simple and creative in celebrating the birth of Jesus. We don't have pressure to buy gifts for everyone, we will give as the Holy Spirit leads. We also have the incredible blessing of displaying our joy, love, hope and adoration of Christ to a people who have yet to know the One who came to bring peace. We are very much looking forward to celebrating Jesus' birthday. One of the blessings of having all those wonderful gifts (that we received in the past during this time of year) removed is that we aren't looking forward to lots of Christmas parties, concerts, sales, Christmas light displays, etc.. We are truly and eagerly anticipating celebrating Jesus' birthday - worshipping Him and rejoicing in the life that He has brought through His coming to us is the joy and excitement of our hearts this year! So, because of that, I'm thankful to be stripped bare so that I am freed up to worship and adore my Savior, "the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace" without hindrance or distraction. He is the joy of my heart, and I'm looking forward to simply being with Him on His birthday.
May the wonder of the Gift in that manger fall afresh on your heart again this season.
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11