Christmas ads and decorations start making appearances earlier every year. As soon as the last official firework illuminates the July sky, Rudolf and Frosty begin lighting up shelves and trees at local box stores. Holidays like Labor Day, Flag Day, and Halloween are treated almost like speed bumps on retail calendars. Thanksgiving is a day set aside to be thankful and grateful for what we have while then refocusing on the day after to begin our quest to accumulate more.
Why the rush? There is an economic push for stores to strike it big in the last quarter - for profits of holiday sales to push ledgers deeper into the black. Black Friday started gaining traction as a holiday when workers started taking the day off for an extended holiday weekend. Instead of working an 8-10 hour day, leftovers and shopping became a normal replacement. Our country and society are encouraged to join the rush and get carried away in the messaging of a hurried season.
God gave us an intentional and necessary gift.
The irony of the commercialization of Christmas is that Christmas was always about a Gift. The Gift God provided in the form of baby Jesus was intentional and needed. The world had seen magicians, sorcerers, kings, queens, good, and bad people. None of them, however, could fulfill the letter of the law and God’s demand for righteousness.
So, God sent a gift, his Son, as a baby so that the world would have to slow down and pay attention.
King Jesus didn’t enter our world riding on a horse, draped in a cape, and humming his own superhero theme song. Jesus entered our world as any other baby. He experienced messy diapers, teething, growing pains, and motherly snuggles. There wasn’t a snap of the fingers and Jesus was instantly transformed into a toddler, or a teenager, or a young adult. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. He experienced puberty, voice change, and awkward family gatherings. While the birth of Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy, provided redemptive love, and salvific grace, it also served as an invitation to us, to come and see the Newborn King.
We must slow down in a world that doesn't.
You can’t rush the growth and development of a baby. You must handle it with care. You nurture it. You coddle it. You savor the snuggles and giggles. Before you know it, that baby will be walking and talking, liking certain foods, and preferring time with friends over family. Looking back, time will have flown by as if you blinked and it’s over. Looking ahead, time creeps along one step at a time, day by day.
As we approach Christmas and all the festivities of celebrating the birth of King Jesus, we are reminded to slow down. We are always in a hurry to get nowhere fast.
Keeping the birth of Jesus in the center of our celebration will help us to seek and savor the Savior.
The empty manger is a reminder of an empty cross that is a reminder of an empty tomb. We celebrate this birthday differently than other birthdays. It’s not about the gift we offer the Newborn King; it’s the gift the Newborn King gives to us. His presence is a gift. It’s a gift that we need to live life to the fullest, in a chaotic world that doesn’t slow down.