I so longed for beauty and to bring something that’s of worth to the Lord as an offering at Christmas and to the children out of my love for them and my need to express it with something of my own making – something that’s a part of me – given to them. That desire still drives me to create something beautiful, useful, worthy, and expressive of me – who I am – and my love for them and for God.
The decorations, foods, music, and stories I read to my children – they were all expressions of love, warmth, beauty, comfort, and joy meant to create in them and in myself a welcoming, ready space – a womb prepared to receive the seed planted – to receive and desire the really Real – Jesus – Emmanuel – God with us.
That was the desire of my heart . . . that my children would love Jesus and treasure Him and desire Him above all else at Christmastime . . . that they might see His beauty and worth, and worship Him. . . that others might be drawn to Him through all the Yuletide preparations and activities.
They are only vehicles, these preparations, and activities, to carry others to Him – instruments in the hand of the Holy Spirit to make ready a place for the Lord, Who only desires to dwell with us, to work His goodness in us and for us and through us, to bring light and life and truth which sets man free.
So . . . now that the children are gone, what is left are the vehicles, the instruments – reminders of something . . . Are they void and useless now? Are they empty reminders? Are they of value without the children? Or is there reason for them still?
We’re always reminded that Christmas is for the children. We’re told to see Christmas through the eyes of a child, as though only a child can give meaning to the celebration of Christmas. But this is where we’re missing the point, and this is why we’re bereft when our children leave home, or can’t make it home for Christmas, or have other things they want to do during the holidays.
Have we become so jaded that we can only find meaning through a child’s wonder? Do we decorate our homes in honor of our children or of Him who dwells with us? Do we cook special things to enjoy and to share with those we value in Jesus’ name? Is there still meaning in all of that? Is it still an offering – something that’s of worth?
Is it not still worship if done unto the Lord as a worshipful, obedient response of beauty to His beauty? All by itself . . . regardless of who comes or goes.
Is a tiny wildflower any less beautiful or any less meaningful and obedient to the Creator because it blooms alone in a desert where no one goes or on a mountainside where only God sees it?
Is it any less a celebration of God’s gift in Christ’s birth because it’s hidden from the eyes of others? Because no one’s there to see it besides us? After all, his arrival was in a stable, unseen by family and friends, unnoticed by the crowds, but heralded by angels, announced to shepherds, and wise men.
In truth, if all our effort is done in worshipful response to Him, in celebratory remembrance as an offering to Him and to bless others who might happen by – then it’s enough. Putting up the tree, decorating it, setting out the ornaments, creating tabletop centerpieces, making and buying gifts, wrapping them, and giving them near and far has purpose, meaning, value, worth, and beauty because He does. He is beautiful and worthy and deserves to be celebrated.
The focus for the celebration – every detail of the decorations, food, music, stories, traditions, things we do – the focus must be on blessing Him with every effort and inviting our children and other family and friends to join in that celebration of Him, His coming, what it means for mankind, and His second coming. That’s what Christmas is, and that’s why each individual believer, no matter how rich or poor, how many people surround him or not, celebrates Christmas.
When we change the focus to “the children” or the events, or the decorations, or the food, music, gift-giving, or even family, we create idols of them, and the “Child born to us” is left hidden in a corner under a pile of wrapping paper.
Children are not strong enough to bear the burden of adoration, of being the center of attention, of Christmas being ‘all about them’ – only God alone can do that. As we focus on Him with each part of this holiday, each event, each tradition, each activity, we invite our children to adore Him with us, to join in with joy and delight in the Season with all its own delights.
This is Godly balance, and our Lord loves a just measure! He also loves a good celebration . . . especially when He is the one we’re celebrating!
Tricia H. Smith (c) 12/05/2020