Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 (King James Version)
Twelve days to go. And I finally see it coming.
It hasn’t been that I’ve been busy with decorating and shopping and all the other things which fill our lives during this particular season of the year.
Instead, it’s been all the other things business-related which have pressed themselves onto the pages of each day—writing, editing, keeping up with business side of the dynamic world of coaching changes in colleges and the NFL, ministry planning of conferences and seminars for next year, church planting, and listening to and spending time with those searching to find direction for their todays and tomorrows.
But then two precious Granddaughters, and a couple of perspective moments they shared, crashed afresh and anew onto my world.
I told Lynda that I wasn’t sure I had the time this year to put up the traditional real Christmas tree. That is, until Hannah and Ellie Kate insisted otherwise and took me to pick one out. We ended up with two—one small enough, at about 5 ½ feet tall, for Ellie Kate to easily—with a little help from Gran—put the star on top; and the other, insisted upon by my elder Granddaughter, Hannah, so that we would have enough room (since we were buying the smaller one Ellie picked out) to hang all of our ornaments accumulated through the years.
So the progression went from one real tree we have for forty-four years traditionally put up—to maybe none this year—now to two. Lynda just shook her head as we moved furniture around to be able to fit both trees within the confines or our comfortable and cozy family room. Only Gran, with the assistance of his two precious Granddaughters, could have engineered such an outcome—one, to none, and then to two! She just shook her head—and smiled.
Twelve days to go. I was beginning to see it coming. And then it came.
A few days later, after the trees were up and ready to be decorated, our two girls came to help us decorate them. We put the traditional music on in the background which we have played every year for the last forty-four years (an old Firestone Christmas album they sold then for a dollar), and began to decorate the two trees.
One of the ornaments is a collection of four pieces making up a manger set—the Baby Jesus in a cradle, Mary, Joseph and a little lamb. It needs to be hung just so in a hollow in the tree so you can see them together, and so they are all around and looking at the Baby Jesus. I usually do the honors. Not this year—Ellie Kate insisted she would hang them, and on her little tree, to boot.
She did. And as I suggested to her, they were all looking at the Baby Jesus; but they had their backs to the rest of us as we peered in to see them. Mary, Joseph and the little lamb didn’t want to be distracted, we were made to understand, by any of us onlookers. Mary, Joseph and the little lamb simply wanted to be able to see the Baby Jesus.
Twelve days to go, and I saw it. I understood.
Twelve days to go, as we rush around buying gifts, sending cards to reconnect with family and friends, preparing ourselves and our homes for that day. Yet there may be one of you who through it all has reached the end of your rope. One of you whose life has been a seemingly endless and continual struggle to reach the top, only to find when you get there, it’s not there. For one of you Christmas is a time of sadness because you have lost a loved one or a relationship has ended, or an illness has come unexpectedly. Or maybe Christmas is a depressing time because of something that haunts you from the past. One of you has made some life-changing decisions for all the right reasons, yet it hasn’t worked out the way you hoped.
Twelve days to go, and I wonder if you see it. In the midst of all the stuff of life and the seemingly frantic pace of the days ahead, do you see it?
When was the last time you stopped and visited the manger?
When was the last time you paused to sit at the feet of the Baby in the manger?
When was the last time you turned your back on all the distractions of the world—like Ellie Kate did for Mary, Joseph and the little lamb—and quietly looked into the face of the tiny Baby lying in a cradle, the Baby Jesus, and saw, and understood?
When was the last time you heard yourself say the words…
“O Come let us adore Him, Christ…the Lord?”
Twelve days to go. Will we see it? Will we understand?
There is an undercurrent of excitement, anticipation, expectation in the world around us, and for good reason. It was whispered by Isaiah to his people long ago…
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Twelve days to go. I can see it. I understand. It’s all about the Baby. It may be in a lowly manger, but it’s the birthplace of the King, filled with a Love that will enfold us every day throughout the year, a Hope that transcends all our sorrows, disappointments and loneliness, and a Majesty that holds all of our eternity.
Twelve days to go. Do you see it coming?
The birth of our Savior—Christ—the newborn King!
Amen and Amen.