Christmas is very different in my house these days. We certainly don’t celebrate Christmas the way we did 20 years ago. I mean, we have a couple of Advent Calendars at the house, and I don’t think we touched them once this month. There used to be a mad dash to the calendars every day to see who could remove the current day. Those mini-disturbances are a thing of the past, though we learned to pre-assign a rotation for each calendar, which ended those morning scuffles.
There aren’t as many cookies being baked (yet). There aren’t as many toys to be wrapped. There aren’t any school programs to attend. But the time still fills up and the big day arrives faster than ever. Or so it seems, even in this year where there are the most days possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’m tired because I’m just older. No, that can’t be it.
We are no longer up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning in our house. This year, Lindsey works all night on Christmas Eve and Jeremy is on call the morning of Christmas Day (just in case there are any Alexa app technical glitches — be sure to call him). The rest of us are exhausted from the hectic schedule of church and life (at our age) so we won’t be getting up early. Of course, my 94-year-old dad will be with us, and he gets up before the chickens. It’s ironic that this year it’s going to be the grandparents that get us up on Christmas day. Oh, how the tables have turned.
It may be a calmer celebration and the only attention the Advent Calendar may see is on Christmas Day itself, but we will still gain weight (I blame the Peppermint Chocolate Chip Malts at Chick-fil-A). As some things change, other things don’t. And there is one thing I work hard on so it will not change.
We still celebrate the Child, with rich traditions that highlight the unique nature of that birth in the Judean hills south of Jerusalem. I want to ponder the mysteries of the Incarnation as Mary did long ago. Paul Tripp put it this way. At Christmas, “glory collided with tragedy.” What a great summary of the story of God in the Bible. The glory of God’s presence, the glory of His promise, and the glory of His grace collide with the tragedy of sin…there in Bethlehem.
But where is the most violent collision of glory and tragedy? On the Cross. That collision is previewed when King Herod, scared to death for his own political power, planned the slaughter of the infants born surrounding Bethlehem around the same time as Jesus. God’s glory collided with tragedy.
As our celebrations change, never let the wonder of the story of God in our lives be diminished. Be overwhelmed as you look in the manger and see the One who came to die. The angels announced His arrival and the peace they mention is only possible because of the tree on which He would one day hang. And that’s not a tree covered with beautiful decorations. Only with His blood.
Don’t let your ever-changing celebrations crowd out the hope we have in Jesus, the glory of God.