My house, looks blank.
I went ahead and pulled all of the lights off the house today. I purchased another plastic storage bin and got everything that was left inside packed up. I then moved everything up to the storage building. Now, when I walk though the house, it seems very empty. There are no blinking lights up my drive or on the house. All of the colorful decorations are gone. It looks, blank, bland, bare. It is almost as if it never happened. The only physical evidence left in sight, are the Santa hat that I once again forgot to pack and a gift box on my kitchen table. Other than that, its all put away.
Most of the lights are off in this house. No one is in those rooms, so light isn’t needed. Its very quiet with the exception of a cat who occasionally wants attention or one of the dogs groaning as they stretch. Outside my windows, the night is very dark. There are no security lights burning out back. These things cause me to ponder on something.
Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem as required of the census. Being there was no room to be found for them, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger. That seems rather stark and bare. Very plain and simple for the birth of a king.
There was no big evergreen tree, or displays of poinsettias. I’m sure there was some low light to see by. But no strands of lights or candles wrapped around everything as we do today. While a multitude of angels did announce the birth to the shepherds, there were no choirs in attendance, no traveling carolers.
It was a stable. Whether it was a building or a cave, it was a place of birth for a king who came to serve. It was not how the Messiah was expected to arrive. He was not, the Messiah they were expecting. They were expecting a warring king come to set them free from the Romans. He came the Son of God, to serve and to save, to set men free, but of their sins.
I climbed around today removing the lights from the house. Packing up decorations and putting other things back in their usual place. I kept up with the fire burning in the wood stove, and I made a call to check on a propane delivery that has not yet come. I took my mom and we went to a local big box store for groceries.
In the years He taught, Jesus had no home to call His own. He had no worries over propane or whether the things in a house were in their place. He didn’t concern himself over what to eat. These are earthly concerns, His concern was and is for the eternal.His concern, was reaching those who would hear. Teaching those who would understand. Guiding those who would see. Forgiving those who sought. And loving all.
I think, we have taken something meant to be simple, and made it into something else. We have allowed commercialism to convince us that it is only Christmas if we spend way too much money on far too many gifts. That it is only Christmas if we receive stacks of gifts. That Christmas is trees and wrappings and parties and gifts, gifts, gifts. We aren’t having a good time unless we are stressed out and spent out. We aren’t spending the days right unless we are absolutely too distracted to see or hear truth. Christmas, is meant to be simple. It is meant to be a recognition of the birth of a baby, born fully God fully man, born a lowly birth, to be the most important and precious gift of all. Savior to the world.
I wonder, as I write this, and it may get me in trouble, but I wonder still. What if, instead of spending so much time on Christmas, as important as it is, we acknowledge and celebrate His birth, but spend more time doing what He instructed us. What if, we followed His example and showed and shared the peace, the compassion, the forgiveness, the love. Every day. Let those be the gifts we share.
Not a one of those boxes stacked in the building with help me. Not a one, will teach me anything. Not a one, will forgive me. Not a one, will offer me, grant me, salvation. It is only the merciful grace of a forgiving, loving God, that can and will do that. Because of love. And that, is the reason for the season.