Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas isn't the ending of the story. It's just the beginning.

Over the last week I've listened to a friend talk to me about marriage issues and her fears along that road.  And all I can do as a friend is to be the ears that listen, not the voice of truth.  Because I don't have any anyway. 

And I watched my son sit in his dad's lap and cry the heartfelt tears of a child with a broken heart and disappointed dreams as he grows up and sees beyond a child's hope and excitement of Christmas.  But at the same time, I watched that same kid grow in maturity a bit as he discovered that sometimes  dreams have to change, and sometimes the truth isn't what we want to hear - or were ready to hear - think Santa in this case.  But that the real truth lies in the fact that we are loved.  And gifts come from the most unexpected places.  And the most caring places.  And the most loving hearts.  And those gifts can still be that Kindle Fire that you so hoped for, but they can be even bigger.... the Kindle Fire that you've so hoped for - packaged in a gift of love from parents that surprised you after all.  And showed you that maybe your faith in one thing has to change a bit, but that you never have to doubt the faith you have in those that love you the most.  What a Christmas lesson. 

But I think there's a lot of lessons to be learned from Christmas.  Because Christmas isn't the ending of the story.  It's just the beginning.  It's at the end of the year, and there are some churchy reasons for that.  But Christmas in and of itself is a celebration of both an ending and a beginning.  It is the moment the darkness of the world ends and we finally receive the light of God, the voice of encouragement that we've waited forever to hear.  It is the moment that, in the unlikeliest form, a baby, (and a homeless one for the moment, at that), that God shows his amazing love to us.  By becoming one of us.  In the humblest of ways.  In the humblest of places.  That he joins with all of mankind to show that he is with us, and that he will always be with us... and that our journey of faith is just beginning. 

Because for us to really know and appreciate the gift of God's love and salvation, we have to have the first page of the story.  Without that, the ending - Easter - isn't quite the same.  We have to wait on Christ, we have to get to know him and love the Christ child first, to develop the relationship that allows us to feel the pain of loss later on. 

And so at Christmas time, we all go through our holidays in so many different ways.  (One person at this very moment is mowing a yard outside - I hear it and wonder if I should take him some Christmas fudge.)    Some of us are right where we belong.  And others still wondering where we belong.  But the true gift of Christmas for everyone, believers at this point or not... is that it's a gift for all.  Even for those of us in places we don't understand.  Because neither did Mary and Joseph that night in the stable.  It was only with God' perfect timing that their eyes could see the real meaning of all that was happening.  

The Bible tells us that Mary took it all in - the birth, the visit from the shepherds, being a new mom, and for the first time, a new family.  She took it all in and pondered all these things in her heart.  Thinking back on how all that was told to her was indeed, step by step coming true.  In God's beautiful time. 

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