At this time of year, traditions run strong in families, congregations, villages and neighborhoods. We make the same cookies that our grandmothers and great grandmothers made, string the same red and white lights around the lamp post at the end of the front walk, sing the same favorite carols, and grace the top of our tree with the same angel that comes out of her tissue papered box to visit with us for a couple of weeks each year.
These traditions are set over decades and guide us to the center of a festival that we have built as our own- our personal and predictable way to experience the wonder of Christmas. I would not give up my annual sing-through of the Messiah or the Yorkshire Pudding at Christmas dinner. It just wouldn’t be Christmas.
But here’s the invitation: take one step back this Christmas. Take one step away from the feast and look for the Christ child. There, among the time-honored traditions that you have built, is a small baby, lying in a manger- the Savior of the world.
Find the Christ child and adore him. Wonder at his smallness, his vulnerability and his grace. You know the end of the story already- he is our Messiah, the One sent to save us- and allow that to sink in. And then, see how all that you do in this season- the lights, the singing, the gifting and the feasting- it is all in an effort- your effort- to pay glory. In all of the trappings, in all of the trimmings, we celebrate God’s wonderful gift of salvation, and to God incarnate, we pay honor and glory.
Christmas lights, angels on top of the tree and must-have menu items are not the end in themselves- they are signs that swirl around the center… which is Jesus.
Come, let us adore him.
Happy Christmas to you all.
The blog “On the Way” will return in the new year, on Jan. 5, after a holiday recess.