“Happy Holidaze!?”

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

“This year, no matter what, I am NOT going to allow myself to get caught up in all of the meaningless hype and frenetic activity that has consumed so many of my past Christmas seasons!”

How many times have you flipped the calendar to December with this kind of adamant resolution?christmas-panic

There is just something about this time of year that can make us feel like we are cresting a steep hill on roller skates, and it will take all of our strength and determination to merely survive the chaotic descent into New Year’s Day. Maybe you feel a looming sense of dread that you will, once again, wake up on January 1st in a disappointed daze as you look back at what should have been some semblence of a meaningful celebration of the birth of the Savior, but all you can recall is a blurred flurry of Christmas-ish happenings that are devoid of lasting substance?

I suppose we could avoid this imminent disappointment by merely lowering our expectations to a near cynical level and resigning ourselves to the harsh reality that Christmas is all about commercial excess with a dash of seasonal lights, and that’s just how things are now.  Or, if we still have a small reservoir of passion about this season left in us, we might join Charlie Brown in throwing our hands up in the air in utter exasperation over the realization that Christmas is no longer Christmas.

frustratedcharliebrown

Or maybe there is another option… a better option…

Every year when we gather as a family, usually on Christmas day, to read Luke’s account of the birth of Christ found in the 2nd chapter of his gospel, I am routinely struck by the insightful disposition of Mary as she celebrated the very first Christmas. This young, new mother found herself  in the lowliest of surroundings with the promised Son and long-awaited Savior lying before her in what was essentially a feeding trough. Upon hearing the angelic proclamation as it was retold to her by the visiting shepherds,

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

Luke simply tells us,

Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

What I find so compelling and instructive about Mary’s response is that it was not at all contingent upon circumstances, constrained by schedule demands, nor corrupted by sentimental, self-serving expectations. A few brief moments of genuine, worshipful reflection on what God had promised and what He had done in bringing the Savior into the world – that was her Christmas celebration!

It was the kind of celebration that could occur at any time, in any place, and under any circumstances. It’s depth of meaning centered not on the traditions of a season, but on the trustworthiness of God’s promises.

So, I say let the festive madness of the season begin. Let the sights and sounds of the holidays wash over us in waves. Bring on the rich foods and rushed shopping days. And yes, let’s protect those cherished family traditions and pass them on to our children.

But…

winter_solitudeLet’s not confuse any of that with Christmas. Let’s not fill our calendars, our senses, and our bellies with seasonal delights that eventually leave us feeling empty.  Quiet contemplation of timeless and transcendent Truth has a way of nourishing and satisfying our souls like no other activity. Behold, the Savior has come! He is Christ the Lord! Christmas is here, and none of us has to miss it!