The Christmas season can be such a busy time! There are pre-Christmas parties to attend, gifts to buy and preparations to get done, followed by the busyness of Christmas Day itself! And then the post-Christmas sales kick off, and we prepare our selves for the New Year celebrations!
So here, in the midst of this busy season, with Christmas just behind us and New Year just a few days ahead, let’s pause, take a breath and remember what’s really important. First, watch this clip of a busy shopping mall…
‘Make this quick’
Did you catch what the man at the start of the clip said to his wife? He said, “Let’s just make this quick, OK?” The shopping experience at this time of year can be pretty painful and that ‘let’s just make this quick’ sentiment is often how my husband proposes our Christmas shopping strategy. A successful trip is focussed (we have a list, we have a budget, we have a timeframe), we are in and out in a matter of minutes, there is no browsing, we have bought the item in question in rapid speed and the deed is done.
Frustration builds when things interrupt the plan – the car park is busy, the queue in the shop is long, the old lady in front of us doesn’t realise we are on a mission to operate and execute a shopping trip with military precision (or I fancy lingering around a bit or even going to a coffee shop – such deviation from the plan is not to be tolerated!)
Time is so tight
Maybe the desire to control the shopping experience sounds a little extreme but other than not loving lengthy shopping trips generally, our approach to shopping has to be like this because at this time of year everything is so much more busy and time is so tight. If it’s not shopping, we have to prepare goodies for various meals, get ready for and attend several parties, and, before Christmas, we had to make some adjustments to our son’s nativity costume to make him the perfect little donkey. Amidst all this, we have to work, get some sleep and work out how to fit in seeing all the relatives. (By the way, you know that every family has at least one awkward relative that you dread going to see? And if you’re not sure who that it is, it’s probably you!)
There is an awful lot going on. That’s why I love this video clip – because in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a shopping centre, a group of people are awestruck enough by the sight of a little baby that they stop what they are doing and kneel.
The right reaction
This is the right reaction after the song ‘Oh Holy Night’. In it, they sing of the ‘weary world’ which rejoices because in this divine night, the angel voices sing of the Christ – the hope of the world – being born. Like most children, I loved Christmas when I was growing up – it was a truly magical time in which the hope of a new baby, Jesus and the excitement of Father Christmas all merged into one bubble of anticipation and excitement.
But when it came to Easter, other than the chocolate, I could really do without the message of the man who had to die and all the mess and complication of his death. Yes, he came back to life, but there was always a lot in church about him dying. I distinctly remember thinking that I’d far rather hear the Christmas message than the Easter one any time.
The hope of the new baby
And that’s the right reaction when you don’t know that the baby can’t just be left at the manger. The night the baby was born is only divine and powerful because the baby was God’s own son in human form, come to walk with us, guide us, love us, help us and free us. The hope of the new baby is not the hope of a wonderful career or a great talent. It is the hope for us which means that we can be free from sin and death.
Perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever might believe in him will not perish but have eternal life’. This is the message of Christmas and the message of Easter. This is what leads us to kneel. Whether Mary knew who her son was is captured in this next video clip:
“Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm the storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod and when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?”
If you want to know the truth about Jesus, then start in the Gospels. Start with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and give God the chance to show you who He is. If you know the truth but you are consumed with busyness, then take this brief time of prayer to submit yourself again to Him. Wherever you are today, remember that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.