Christmas Eve is very special to me. It's the last day of the Christmas season before Christmas day itself. Obviously. But think about this.
It's a time when anticipation is at its highest. Yeah, we're excited about tomorrow but I think it's more. Material gifts can only go so far. After we unwrap that last stocking stuffer and look around and observe not only the quantity of our gifts but also the inherent value of what we receive, I hope we realize two deeper truths regarding possessions. One: "For a man's (and woman's) life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which [they] possess." (Luke 12:15) And two: "It is more blessed to give than receive." (Acts 20:35) Incidentally, taking these two verses out of context, realize that the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts are one book split in two. Written by the same person (Luke) regarding "all that Jesus began both to do and teach." (Acts 1:1) Interesting.
One of the greatest gifts we can receive is the gift of contentment. And I would wager to say that wrapped up in the feeling of breathless anticipation is that gift of contentment. How much would you give to live in that atmosphere of excitement year round? As children, we were so, so excited to have the wonder of Christmas so close that you could reach out and touch it. The sights and smells of the season crescendoed on Christmas Eve and it was all you could do to maintain your young sanity in light of such a monumental even as Christmas morning. Well, as adults, we still yearn for that excitement. And Jesus is that breathless expectation personified.
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)
I remember one Christmas spent at a friend's house. I had stayed up and interacted via text with another friend. It was just before midnight and I sat at the bottom of the stairs with Duchess, my host's dachshund. I remember soaking in the soft red-orange glow of the Christmas tree in the next room. Coupled with the company of their sweet dog, God effectively wove for me one of my most cherished and beautiful Christmas memories. And it had nothing to do with possessions, gifts, anything material. The virtual fellowship with my friend and the love of our hosts was enough to keep my spirits up in light of some recent tragic events. Maybe that's why it was so bright.
Take some time if you haven't already and read Dickens' Christmas Carol. That story has been immortalized in countless movies and references. In spite of this, however, no adaptation I've seen does it complete justice. Take for instance, the Ghost of Christmas Present when he visits Scrooge. He takes him by the hand and proceeds to fly around the world and show him how people with nothing are keeping Christmas in their heart. They visit a prisoner in a jail cell, a lighthouse keeper. A man in a ship out in the middle of the ocean. I can't understand how no movie has captured this breathtaking scene and relayed it to the masses. It's a conspiracy I say.
If you're still up upon reading this, take a moment and revel in the wonder that is, not only Christmas, but Christmas Eve as well. Jesus is about to come into the world ladies and gentlemen. And what greater gift could we receive than Him?
(December 25th 2011, 12:01 am)