A Meaningful Christmas

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:7, NIV)

I want to refocus my heart and mind on Jesus’ divinity by anticipating, delighting in, and looking for the ways in which his presence manifests in me and around me.Earlier this month I shared this quote by Sister Joan Chittister, “My hope for you and me this Advent season is that we will ‘learn the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in a sense of the presence of God all around us, the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future.’”

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I blinked and the Advent season is only a few short days from being over. Sadly, I was more miss than hit on remaining present to anticipating, delighting in, looking for, and living into the joy of these weeks leading into Christmas morning. Busyness and personal challenges occupied my time and emotional availability.

I want to extend an invitation, to myself and you, that there is room to push the reset button and refocus our attention on the significance of Jesus being laid in a manger, that living into more life in the future is still an option, and the joy surrounding Christmas is much bigger than just one day on the calendar.

There are as many as four different dates on which people around the world celebrate Christmas Day, depending on their church tradition. We don’t actually know the exact day of his birth, but what we do know is a world-changing event occurred when Mary gave birth to Jesus.

I faithfully read the birth narrative in the Gospel of Luke each Christmas morning. However, on many occasions I have done so just to check it off the list. Then, before I know it, I find myself on the other side of the frenzy of unwrapping presents and a post-breakfast food coma.

This year as I read about Mary giving birth to Jesus, I want to think beyond the manger and remember that while Jesus was fully human as he slept in the manger, he was also fully the Son of God. I want to refocus my heart and mind on Jesus’ divinity by anticipating, delighting in, and looking for the ways in which his presence manifests in me and around me. Not only throughout the weekend, but in the New Year that awaits.

While the occupied manger that night in Bethlehem is an important piece of the Christmas narrative, let us also consider the words of Sister Joan: “Christmas is meant to take us to the level of spiritual maturity where we are capable of seeing in a manger the meaning of an empty tomb.”

The joy of Christmas!

Tracy Hanson
December 22, 2016
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