“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10
When I was twelve years old, Christmas let me down. I still believed that the holiday was about receiving, and that year my small pile of gifts didn’t stack up to expectations. I recall getting money and going to my room to lament. When my sister found me she asked what was wrong, and I put it simply, “I didn’t get cool stuff this year.”
As an adult it’s easy to fall into the same trap. I may not expect “cool stuff” for gifts, but I have great expectations nonetheless. I hope that my sons will be home on Christmas Eve and day, that we will cook a Butterball, and play games as a family. This year may be different as our grown sons make commitments to new friends far away who wish for their Christmas Day attention. Christmas traditions will change.
When Nehemiah had the book of Moses read to the people of Israel after years of being forgotten, the people began to grieve. Some had never heard the requirements of God’s law. But Nehemiah put it in perspective: You’ve heard the Word! This is a Holi-Day. Celebrate! Make awesome food for yourselves and give some of it away!
We sometimes say Christmas is a Holy Day, but personally I forget that too often amidst the tinsel, TV, toys and boys. I forget that genuine joy comes from celebrating Emmanuel, the Word putting on flesh so we could see, touch, and know Him.
Dear God, help me find peace and joy in my relationship with you, and thank you for sending Jesus to redeem us from our low expectations. Amen.
Consider advent readings as a way to anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. The good folks at www.adventconspiracy.org/ provide creatively consecrated ways to keep Christmas holy.
What are your expectations this Christmas? Can you let some go in order to make room for God’s holy one?