Never Lose the Wonder

by tklicka on December 23, 2017

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  –Isaiah 9:6-7

The words Christmas Eve conjure up a hundred memories for me. As a child, sneaking 64C16A6C-404E-42F2-BA7C-B8F36456D96Ddownstairs late at night on Christmas Eve, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa was one of my first memories. Sitting on a pew in my grandmother’s church, with flickering candle light all around, listening to unfamiliar carols but loving the calming words and beautiful music is another one.

It wasn’t until I was nearly in high school that I came to both understand and love the true meaning of Christmas – God sent His Son…what a gift. He came for me…what hope. In Him I found new life…what love! Every Christmas Eve after that, I sang Christmas carols with thankful tears in my eyes, and celebrated with a bursting heart the joy that Jesus gives in the season marking Emmanuel’s first coming to us.

Eleven Christmas Eves later, I held my firstborn child in my arms. What I didn’t know in mothering skills, I made up for in enthusiasm. How I wanted her to hear of the greatest love she would ever know, as I sang the child’s Christmas carol, Once in David’s Royal City. How I dreamed about planning for and sharing the joy of Christmas with her and every child God might give us in the future.

One of my favorite Christmas Eve memories was when our firstborn was barely two years old. In keeping the true spirit of Christmas, I had placed the crèche on a coffee table next to our Christmas tree in the living room. Perhaps unlike most people who display the nativity scene, though, the stable held only a cow, a shepherd and some sheep. There were no Magi, and there was no Joseph, Mary or baby Jesus.48DD892D-4EC0-4E35-9A33-8ABAFBD421BB

After explaining on Christmas Eve to Bethany that Jesus hadn’t been born yet, but that we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Messiah who would be born the next morning, my husband Chris and I couldn’t really tell what she understood of our explanation. Before retiring to bed, I placed Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in the stable, whispering, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

That Christmas morning, the sun had broken through winter clouds, shedding its light on the manger scene, much like the star of Bethlehem illuminated the stable 2000 Christmas Eves ago. As we descended the stairs that morning, we wondered what our two-year-old had grasped in her young, toddler mind of our explanation the previous night. Then we watched in amazement, as Bethany, upon entering the living room, rushed over to the stable, and discovering him there, picked him up and kissed him. As I felt the tears start to flow, I thanked God that even the tender heart of this tiny child could comprehend the gift of His Son.

DF67177E-5D51-4458-AD26-1B6B779742D9Last week, the Pew Research Center released a study which revealed that while nine out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas in some fashion, only 55% celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. It causes me to wonder if commercialism and our national preoccupation with the cultural aspects of Christmas—gift giving, entertainment, holiday parties—have stifled the significance of that one night which forever changed the history of the world.

Even if we do celebrate the arrival of our Messiah at Christmas, keeping the stillness and quiet of that first Christmas Eve in our hearts requires us to slow down our pace, turn off the technology, and purposefully plan for moments of worship. How? By anticipating His coming in our Christmas celebrations—using an Advent calendar for daily readings, singing Christmas carols together as a family, reading again the story of His birth and other books that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. And being still on Christmas Eve, quiet in our hearts, talking to and worshipping the One who is the epicenter of the season.1B022F1B-7F8A-45AF-827A-88092E76DE3E

I will never forget seeing little Bethany run and kiss baby Jesus that Christmas morning almost 30 years ago; may I never lose that same wonder and joy of receiving the gift of His Son. A very, blessed and Merry Christmas to you all!

“I bear my testimony that there is no joy to be found in all this world like that of sweet communion with Christ. I would barter all else there is of heaven for that. Indeed, that is heaven. As for the harps of gold and the streets like clear glass and the songs of seraphs and the shouts of the redeemed, one could very well give all these up, counting them as a drop in a bucket, if we might forever live in fellowship and communion with Jesus.”       ― Charles H. Spurgeon



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