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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Keeping Christmas Simple

I'm struck today by how complicated Christmas has gotten. A friend who is caring for her husband who has Alzheimer's feels bad because she hasn't had time to put up a tree or decorations. She just isn't in the mood to do it. Others are frenzied with activity, yet they feel they still must do Christmas baking and complete their shopping from elaborate gift lists. What happened to silent night, holy night? From where I stand, all is certainly not calm or bright.

But it isn't a myth. Christ came into the world to bring peace, quietly, simply, in a manger. His parents didn't even have the means to care properly for him the first few days of his life. They lived in a barn with the animals. It was base, at best. No frills. No fenzied activities. No expensive gifts. No list of things to do. Just a mother nursing her baby amidst the straw and a worried father no doubt wondering how he'd get his family out of this desperate situation. But God was there and they trusted Him.

They got it right, that first Christmas. The young holy family clung tightly to one another and the promises of God. And because of that, and in spite of seemingly horrible circumstances, they found peace and joy.

Oh, come let us adore him. And that's exactly what they did, as do all new parents as they look into the face of their newborn. The wonder. The excitement of a new chapter beginning. A new life, new hope.

It's the same for us when we follow the example of Mary and Joseph. When we hold close the ones we love and reflect on God's promises for us, we find peace, even miracles, in the Christmas chaos. When we keep our focus on the Christ child, born to us just as surely as he was to Mary and Joseph, we experience the same wonder they did. Life wells up within us and we feel the hope this baby brought to earth.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

So relax. Breathe in the scent of that newborn baby. Feel the scratch of the hay. Hear the angels sing. See the star and follow it with all your might to the holy child's cradle. Silent night, holy night! O come, let us adore him!

This year, let's keep it simple.


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