“I baked a bit.” My mother-in-law smiled as my husband piled the tins of cookies, Christmas cakes, chocolates and tarts on the counter.
“I should say you did!” He said and we all chuckled.
Then Christmas day came and the turkey and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies. We ate the left overs for weeks. I think I gained at least five pounds through that season and I think it’s still sitting on my hips. By the time my mother-in-law left we were all feeling like we’d had a little too much Christmas. One of my daughter’s commented that maybe it would be a good idea to scale things down a notch the next year.
In our prosperous North American society, it’s easy to take things to an excess that is neither of spiritual benefit nor physically healthy. All the gift giving and trappings of Christmas are good to a point, but when things go overboard the true significance of the season can easily be buried under all the celebration. We get excited about the decorating and baking and gift buying and forget that our Saviour was born in a rough stable with no glitz, no glitter and most likely the most basic of food and drink. Those who knew His true identity came in secret to pay homage. Even the angels were restricted in their announcement, appearing to the most humble of that society, shepherds tending their flocks. That first Christmas day was the most significant time in history, yet it was wrapped, not in loud fanfare and celebration, but in a quiet awe and reverence.
We are a little like the apostle Peter after he witnessed one of the most astounding events of Christ’s time on the earth – His transfiguration. Seeing Elijah and Moses speaking with Jesus, Peter exclaims – “I will put up three shelters…” (Matthew 17:4). His first inclination was to celebrate but he had no idea what he was saying, no idea that he was in fact bringing Jesus down to the same level as the two prophets of old. God the Father does not waste any time correcting him. “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5).
The father dismissed Peter’s plan to surround the event with “trappings” and made it clear what they should do instead. It was a rather straight-forward command – “Listen to him!”
Perhaps we should remember that moment as we celebrate Christmas this year, remember to look beyond all the trappings of the season and acknowledge the One who was born to give His life for us. Perhaps we should all scale things down a notch. Instead of too much “Christmas” perhaps we should focus on listening for the voice of the Christ.
My newest release:
Christmas – short stories to stir the Christmas Spirit. From the far reaches of the Galaxy to the streets of an inner city and the cold landscape of the far north, Christmas miracles can still happen.