Author: Glenda Manus
Devotional January 6, 2016
Romans 12:2 (ESV) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Today is January 6th, the Epiphany, traditionally the day in which the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. During our stay in Germany, our landlords celebrated Christmas up until this day and invited us to join them in their festivities. Since then, I’ve used this excuse to leave up my tree, enjoying the soft lights just a few days longer than most of my friends and family.
Christmas Day has come and gone and now all that is left are a few Christmas trinkets gracing my mantle at the start of the new year. The tree is left standing, looking somewhat forlorn with no presents underneath and the lights from the tree are spotlighting the bits of glitter that will take months to get out of my carpet. And oh, there’s the small table in the foyer displaying shiny multi-colored lights surrounding the nostalgia driven decor of my childhood.
I have tried every year since I became an adult to conjure up the magic of Christmas that believing in Santa inspired. The tinkling of bells as his sleigh settled on the rooftop, the footsteps on the roof, the whoosh of a fat man sliding down the narrow opening of the chimney; all those things filled my head as a child, just like the sugar plums from the famed story, Twas the Night before Christmas. If Santa could do all those things, surely he was magical enough to continue his spell on me. But every year, I failed to achieve those awe-inspiring moments my youth. The glimmer of recognition was there, but it was always just out of my reach. Sure, some of the magic came back while watching my childrens’ eyes open wide when they saw the toys Santa left under the tree. Bigger and better toys each year until sometimes it became a financial burden, all just to create that feeling once again. Nostalgia, it’s a wonderful thing, but aspiring to claim it year after year is not healthy and I’ll admit that I carried it with me like an albatross around my neck.
I’ve always observed the spiritual side of Christmas too, involving myself in church activities of the season and loving the old Christmas hymns. I’ve picked names off the angel tree and enjoy buying for those who have so little, abiding by the message of Proverbs 14:31 which says that to help the poor is to honor God. I slip dollars in the kettles of the Salvation Army bell ringers. I enjoy the Advent season, preparing for the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of anticipation and hope in what can sometimes seem a bleak and hopeless world. I’ve studied Luke’s account of the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God. But it’s almost as if I have celebrated two entirely different holidays at the same time. The one of magic, glitz and glitter and the one of a dear Savior’s birth.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped trying to “fix” Christmas. I shop for the family, but I don’t let it consume me as I have done in the past. I don’t go all out decorating as I once did. My excessive amount of Christmas decor now sits in the attic waiting for grandchildren to grow up and stake their claim on the nostalgic trinkets from Grandma’s house. I no longer sit in a dark room with only the lights of the Christmas tree, digging down into my memory bank for glimpses of the Christmas magic I might have missed, then feeling disappointed when I didn’t quite grasp it.
What caused this transformation of thought and why am I no longer searching for “Christmas”? It’s because I’ve found that Christmas is not confined to December; it’s an everyday occasion and it goes hand-in-hand with Easter. The Son of God born in a lowly manger, his death, his resurrection along with the promise of an everlasting life. These are not tangible things we can hold in our hands like Christmas trinkets; they’re not sparkly lights and glittery objects that we can see with our eyes. It’s just something that you know in your heart; it’s called faith, and the joy of knowing it and believing it surpasses all the “magic” that our childhood Christmases ever held.
Tomorrow, as I take down my tree and store it and my few trinkets back in the attic, I will not be melancholy. I will pack them away knowing that Christmas lives inside me all year long. I will bring them out again year after year, looking upon them fondly, but not needing them to satisfy the yearning of years gone by.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for creating in me a new spirit. A spirit that celebrates You all year long. May we never forget that what you have in mind for us is good, acceptable and perfect.