The space under the Christmas Tree is bare. The gifts have been given and received. Ripped open with gusto or gently unwrapped depending on your personality or the personality of your family. We are “a rip it all open as fast as you can and make a huge mess early on Christmas Morning” kind of family. There have been years when our budget was small and we had less presents to rip open but those seem all the more precious because of it.
My dad passed away in March of this year so for me, this is my first Christmas without him. Even though I haven’t celebrated Christmas with my family in Southern California for many years, I have always called them on Christmas Day. My dad was never much of a talker so the conversation was always short, but nonetheless, I will not hear his voice this year. I have pictures of his smile and memories of him but this year he is in heaven. The death of a loved one makes Christmas bittersweet. On my husband’s side of the family in Northern California, it is a big boisterous event and since the first Christmas I spent with them in 1994, both Grandmas were a part of it. In the last couple of years, they have passed into eternity as well.
Christmas is never the same. Even with time-honored traditions that are passed on through the generations, there is a part of Christmas that reminds us of the preciousness of time passing. Of the importance of enjoying this special day, no matter how same or different it is.
I was 19 years old when Christmas became more than a holiday for me. More than a season of red and green, presents and food. When I discovered a personal relationship with Jesus, Christmas became a revelation of Holy power and the miracle of the unlimited God wrapped in the limit of a human body. Suddenly “O Holy Night” made me cry and “Joy to the World” made sense. I felt like I carried a secret treasure of joy around with me throughout December.
Can I tell you the truth? I felt that way the first few years but not for all of them. Being called into ministry soon after that I discovered that Christmas easily became work-related instead of Savior related. And it’s not just the ministry that does it, life does it. Having babies and having jobs and having no money and having more money does it.
And now in the aftermath of Christmas, I am drawn in again by His Spirit to pause and reflect on the miracle that it is. That the hope of heaven (and the hope of seeing my dad and the grandmas again) is mine because of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes that was laid in a manger over 2000 years ago. That the secret treasure of joy born of being luxuriously loved by my Savior is mine to have and to hold every day of the year. I am His and He is mine.
I live loved because of Christmas.
I am beloved because Christ came for me.
Christmas means Christ came for YOU.
You can live loved because of it.
You are beloved every day no matter how you are feeling. It is the truth that will set you free as you work it into every area of your life.
May you have a moment in the aftermath today or this week that reminds you how much you are LOVED by Jesus and how much He wants you to live loved every moment of your life.