We finally got our decorations up on the Saturday, the 20th. For some this may seem like no big deal, but for us, who usually get it done the weekend after Thanksgiving, this was late, almost late enough that it seemed unnecessary.
This has been a different season. We were gone for Thanksgiving weekend, and the following 2 weekends I had church commitments that took up a large amount of energy (it wouldn’t have been that way back in the day, but that was then; this is now), and so before we knew it, we were less than a week away from Christmas. Never mind that swim meets started, and our daughter in college, Kara, came home and had 6 teeth pulled (fortunately that sounds worse than it ended up being), and then our post-college daughter got engaged. And additional work shifts for Glen, including working on the day after and the day before Christmas, and, well, we pretty much would have preferred to hang it up like the stockings which I still need to fill.
The Advent season is a human construct. There is no mandate in scripture that we scurry around and find the perfect gifts for those we love, and make memories to last a lifetime, or to do any of the things we fill our time with around Christmas. Granted, some of the things we do are life-giving – finding that perfect gift, seeing friends and family who are in town for the holidays, or enjoying the lights on the houses in the neighborhood. But some of the things we do may just be distracting. And for those of us whose lives don’t slow down for the holidays, Christmas may seem like a distraction in itself.
The magi were distracted by a star that they had seen, and believing it to mean that the King of the Jews had been born, they came to worship Him. But as they inquired of his whereabouts, they were met with fear from Herod, the current “king of the Jews”, and apathy by the Jewish leaders. What a contrast between the wise men who traveled from their home land to worship Jesus, and those who lived just around the corner from where his birth took place. The Jewish leaders even knew the scripture that prophesied the birth of a King, yet they were nonplussed by either the enthusiasm of the magi or the fear of Herod.
Those who searched for him in worship found him. Those who searched for him in fear or did not search for him at all did not find him. In this busy season, I wonder how many of us are shying away from seeking Jesus, the Center of the Christmas season, either because we are afraid of what He might do in our lives should we surrender to him, or because we are bored with the Christmas story and the joy and hope that we are invited into as followers of Christ. I hope most of us, including me, are searching for Jesus yet, in the busyness of this season, so that we find him and worship him.
“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” That is the promise that God made to his people through the prophet Jeremiah. And that is the promise He makes to us this Christmas. May we be grateful recipients of the distraction that the birth of Christ was on that first day, and that it still is today. Merry Christmas!