Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Heart of Christmas

       As a child, Christmas is obviously the best thing ever. There is plenty of snow to make snowmen, and have epic snowball fights where you can finally throw things at people without getting in trouble. The smell of cookies fills the air, and even better is the taste in your mouth, and the feeling in your tummy. Wrapped in a blanket and held close, sweet hot chocolate and marshmallows are drunk by the fire while Grandpa tells a story. Christmas carols ring in the air, and falalalala is the first thing out of your mouth when you wake up. The countdown to Christmas has begun, and you can’t wait to find out what is in those boxes and weird shapes wrapped up under the Christmas tree, or for whatever “Santa” might bring you (if you’ve been good). You can’t wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus with more singing, cookies, and presents. Christmas spirit is everywhere.  

As we grow older, the hustle and bustle of Holiday traffic and the stampede of holiday shoppers may try to trample the heart of Christmas. The pressure to find the perfect gift for each loved one might cause feathered cracks to travel across the heart of Christmas. Work, pain, loss, and suffering might mask the heart of Christmas in a camouflage of red, green, sparkles, tinsel, and jingle bells. Perhaps even the snow, warm traditions, and the sound of Christmas carols only seem to remind you of what else you need to check off of your list to make sure that everyone else can see the heart of Christmas.

      What if I told you that the heart of Christmas is so much more than we could ever imagine it to be? What if the heart of Christmas was present all year round, everywhere we looked?

     As we stand, the heart of Christmas floats through the air in the message of Christmas carols. The heart of Christmas appears as you drive down the street, wander through stores, and sit at home. The heart of Christmas is found in the symbolism of everything that is associated with Christmas - lights that decorate people’s houses (Jesus is the light of the world), Candy canes (the blood of Jesus washes away our sins), Christmas trees, bells, candles, ornaments, etc., they all have a meaning.

      More than that, the heart of Christmas can be seen wherever we look, all year long, in the forms of love, joy, hope, and peace. The heart of Christmas can be found in the people you walk past – those who bring a smile to your face, those who are willing to give a helping hand. It’s in the smile of the stranger you almost bumped into at Wal-Mart and the patience of the man standing behind you in line. It’s in the family member or friend who was there when you needed them the most, and the unwavering friendship of the dog or cat lying on your lap. It’s in the kind waiter/waitress at a busy restaurant. It’s in your grandmother as she bakes cookies, your grandfather as he tells stories, and your mom and dad as they love you when you are being unlovable.

It’s in the teacher who loves the kids that have eaten the most sugar, and the doctor, firefighter, EMT, and vet who just want to save lives. It’s in the steadfast determination of a soldier as they fight for our freedom. The heart of Christmas is discovered in the little girl halfway around the world that won’t let go of you because she is desperate to be loved. The heart of Christmas is strikingly present in the joyful smile and unfaltering strength of the little two year old fighting for his life and the parents and nurses who smile, encourage, and hold his hand. The heart of Christmas can be seen in the wisdom of the old man sitting on the side of the street waiting for a cup of soup, the love and strength of the older woman who has cared for so many, in the moments when memories come back, and the miracles that God performs every single day.

      Most importantly, the true heart of Christmas has a name. At the sound of that name, Christmas jubilation abounds in my soul as I praise the Lord for the best gift imaginable. Jesus Christ. Born to make us new. Sent because of a love so pure and true that we can have an everlasting relationship with our Lord - the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

      When I think of that love, that wonderful everlasting love, hope, joy, and peace, how can it not be a very merry Christmas? How can the joy of Christmas not be in my heart all year round? How can I not want to “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere?”

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom