A few years ago, I came to a sad realization about myself: the amazing story of Christmas had become so familiar to me that it was almost as if it didn’t matter much anymore. No, I hadn’t lost my love for God and the Son He sent to redeem the world. But I had lost the sense of wonder and awe that I knew I should have had. It was disturbing. My guess is that you and your kids might share my experience of Christmas being all-too-familiar.
What brought me to this point of being almost numb to the wonder and joy of the greatest news humanity will ever experience?
I concluded that it was a combination of things.
First, I had grown up hearing the Christmas story over and over every year. Familiarity hadn’t bred contempt, but I had allowed it to bring a certain unhealthy measure of disregard. Second, there was the sum total of holiday distractions. This includes all the stuff like decorations, endless commercials, Black Friday sales, and the rush that drains both the meaning and the Christ from Christmas. Finally, there was the busyness of my own life. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into the tyranny of the urgent. . . all at the cost of losing time to cultivate a proper sense of wonder and awe. And when you allow your life to be governed by urgency, Christmas just shows up, catching us almost unaware. A consumer-centered Christmas can even become a burden!
Since coming to that realization, each and every year I work to become more mindful of Christmas by taking the time to focus first on all the horror and brokenness in the world. This practice breathes amazing new life and excitement into the story of the Incarnation. By focusing on the reality of sin and brokenness that occasioned Christmas, I have become more appreciative of God’s grace and mercy shown in the gift of the Savior. In other words, pondering the bad news has allowed me to appreciate the Good News! We need. . . . desperately need the baby in the manger.