The True Spirit of Christmas

I must confess that this has been the ultimate-easy-joyful Christmas on record. In the past I would do my darndest. Making lists, sorting, and containing all the things I could fathom wrapping my mind and heart around. It never worked. By the eve of Christ’s birth I would become an hurried, hassled mess. But not this year.

So what’s the difference? For the past couple weeks I’ve taken a mini-sabbatical from my day job. Historically a slower time of year, I went to my boss (aka: the hubz) for permission and he said Yes!
Here we are just a few days from Christmas and I’ve been able to quiet myself during long hours of baking, spend time reading that ole’ Christmas story, and ponder what the true spirit of Christmas really is.
As I reflect, I consider all the wonderful details in the story. I come to imagine, placing myself within the scene like a love-struck fictional bystander. I’ve found myself catching my breath a time or two…and with each passing year a new discovery unfolds.
This year I delight in the Magi. These scholarly, well-to-do foreign men traveling from the East. They were simply following their religion (astrology) and where it was leading them. In this case they were following a star (well, duh) when their journey just so happened to divinely collide with the greatest story ever told.
“When they saw the star , they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they open
ed their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
(Matthew 2: 10-11)

Enter the True Spirit of Christmas.
Imagine the kind of faith it takes to journey into a foreign land. If you’ve done it before then you know what I’m talking about. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. To cross over cultural lines rocks our comfort level and requires an extreme act of inner faith. This is the character we find in The Wise Men. On a journey so filled with conviction that they could not rest until they found the king they set out to find.
And when they came upon the house and discovered the child, they bowed down and worshiped him. That’s odd…don’t you think? When was the last time that you became so tripped up, flat on your face humbled, that all you could do was bow your head in worship? In my experience, this usually happens to me when I’ve been blown away by the overwhelming power of something only divine nature could unfold. Almost always completely unexpected. Something mighty, a long hard journey, and the beauty before them caused them to fall in favor of the child before their eyes.
Their story could end here and it would remain magnificent but it doesn’t. Instead they add one more element to the saga. They came giving gifts. Precious, valuable, symbolic gifts. I won’t go into the symbolism of each gift (Google it if your curious) but what I find most fascinating is what is left unsaid. Later on post-Jesus’s birth we see the dynamics shift from sheer bliss to dire circumstances. With little warning, awoken from a dream from God, Joseph is told that he must flee to Egypt to escape King Herod who is on a quest to kill the new King Jesus. I imagine the significance of those gifts. A means of survival. Life sustaining gifts.
So as we embark on this Christmas journey, that we have traveled so well over the years, what gifts do we bring this season? World Vision, a Christian Humanitarian Organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families around the globe offers one such solution. Titled none other than The True Spirit of Christmas, they offer folks like ourselves an opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone else through the gift of a livestock animal. Are you looking for a way to play a part in the story this year? Consider the True Spirit of Christmas. Make a gift today. Change a life.

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