Family arrived yesterday… everyone. 13 of us now here to celebrate Christmas, it’s going to be epic…it’s already been epic. We put up a tire swing, have a timeout box for our phones to keep us connected to each other and not our phones and today we’re going to Seaworld. #Parrottsinparadise (yes, Parrott is my maiden name) and that’s our Christmas hashtag, everyone needs one right?
I spent the day finishing up the final things I “had” to do to get our home, our fridge ready. How will we manage the dishes? The space? Will there be enough space? Does everyone have enough to eat? Reality check, no one is in danger of going hungry here, the cookie jars are overflowing.
Busying myself over the last few weeks has been the struggle of my heart, to just sit, be still before the Lord. Somehow, in the ache of my heart, longing for my girls I’ve tried to fill that void by making my home “perfect”, a distraction from the grief that has proved only to highlight the ache. A good friend (with two young kids) shared as we were out the other night how they barely had time to put up a tree this year, and the décor on it was dismal at best. My heart ached, the longing brought to the surface, I wish that was my story. No time to decorate a tree because… the children. It reminds me of the shepherds. No time to tend the sheep because… the child.
Amidst all the “to do lists” (did they have those back then?) and responsibilities, when the angels appeared their only posture was “I must see the King.” The beauty, the simplicity, the glory of Christmas is not in the cookies, the decorations, the perfectly wrapped presents, the gifts under the tree, the Christmas parties, but in the King. It’s not found in the “holly jolly”, or the bubbly Christmas songs but in the knowing, the deep knowing that the King of Kings broke into our ache, into our pain to bring life and hope. And when we get caught up in all the activities Christmas brings in our culture, we miss… the King.
The King, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger. The one the shepherds and the wisemen came to celebrate. The one they brought gifts, gifts that reflected that they knew the one they were beholding was their king. And the greatest gift they brought… themselves. To worship, to adore, the one who had come to save them, to save us.
The shepherds left the routine of caring for the lambs. Not just any lambs, but the ones used every day in the temple sacrifices to atone for sins, to offer praise. They knew. They knew what must be true of a lamb that could be presented for sacrifice. They knew a perfect lamb was coming. And their focus switched from the lambs that would atone for sins temporarily to meet THE lamb that would atone for the sins of the people eternally. “‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry….’”. (Luke 2:15,16) They laid aside what was temporal to see the eternal God-man, King of Kings, Messiah held in the arms of two unassuming parents in a manger filled with hay. No Christmas decorations, no beautifully decorated cookies, no hours spent getting ready for the King. Just tired, weary men who heard the call, “The King is here” and went. All they knew was “I must see the King.”
Is that my posture this Christmas season? “I must see the King.” Too often it has been “I must get through, I must decorate my home, I must get these gifts, I must go to this party, I must do, do, do.” Oh Lord, let our hearts be instead “I must see the King, I must go to the manager”, the manager filled with not the beauty of Christmas lights but the beauty of the light and glory of God that filled a lowly place with His presence. With Love come down, with Emmanuel, God with us. 400 years of silence broken. He has come, the promise is here. Let us sit at His feet and celebrate. This is Christmas. And the WEARY world rejoices.