A Heart for Christmas
Here it comes…Thanksgiving, then Advent, then Christmas, then New Years, and then, there it goes…we are quickly back to our regularly scheduled lives. It is a cycle with which we can become too comfortable. The weeks of Advent bring us peace and joy. It can seem the anticipation is more exciting than Christmas itself. We definitely see it in our kids. They wonder and marvel at the season, Santa at the mall, and the presents under the tree. What child doesn’t pick up a box with his or her name and shake it, measure it and begin to ponder what surprise awaits them on Christmas morning? Adults have the same anticipatory excitement as we think about Christmas parties, travel, shopping sprees, and family visits. Who doesn’t love the Christmas season?
But for many of us something amazing happens after Christmas. The new toys quickly lose their luster. The toy drives and service initiatives for the less fortunate fall down our priority list. Our generous and peace-giving attitude dissipates back into the same patterns we knew before the season. And then, just like Santa up the chimney, our Christmas joy and peace disappear.
Our biblical perspectives of Christmas, which often focus on the nativity, might even reinforce our seasonal approach to Christ. We see Christmas as the miraculous arrival of the baby Christ and, like the gospels, we move quickly on in life. The gospel of John talks about Christ’s birth in a slightly different fashion. His three words are, I think, among the deepest in the Bible—a brief, yet profound description of the true meaning of Christmas.
Word became flesh. (John 1:14)
When Word becomes flesh, when Jesus walks into the room, everything changes. The essence of God in the Word becomes the literal presence of God in the flesh. This presence knows no beginning or ending. It has no limit. God is everywhere all the time. And, if we simply open the door, God comes in. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas event. We don’t need a “reason for the season” because God’s presence isn’t a seasonal phenomenon. It is an omnipresent truth.
When we accept Christ, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit lives in us. As we continue to place Christ in the foreground of our lives, rather than the background, Word becomes flesh all the time. Do we need a sense of anticipation to engage our spirit? If so, then why not anticipate the coming of the Word into our flesh, the Holy Spirit into our hearts? This anticipation shows us that every day can, and should, be like Christmas. We all have an amazing present awaiting us in heaven, and along the way we are blessed with an amazing presence. “Word became flesh” so that the peace and joy of Christmas could be an ever-present spirit. And, that is the reason for the season! That is truly having a heart for Christmas.