christmas eve


It’s quiet here.  The kind of quiet that resonates quite loudly after the exuberant chaos of our family Christmas last night. Twenty-four people in one house – five of them under 10 years old, three of them my brilliant but extremely active grandsons – it was not exactly a silent night.  It was a lot of fun and love and hugging, and laughing like crazy, but it was not ever quiet.

The best part of the night was the white elephant exchange, where a certain tool was stolen  and stolen back about 8 or 9 times, while my brother was stuck with lip gloss and a diary that he couldn’t get rid of, and my niece ended up with a “pocket chair”.  This was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen – a folding stool allegedly small enough to fit in a pocket, but only if you are wearing size XXL painter’s paints.  When folded out, it stood about one foot from the floor, and one foot wide.  She sat on it for the remainder of the game, which was even more comical than the chair itself.

And all of the time that this was going on, the grandkids ran back and forth, being charmingly annoying as only kids can be, narrating the opening of the white elephant gifts – “Wow, you’re the winner!”  “I told you to pick that one, it would be good.”  “You got LIP GLOSS??”

I have to say that it’s a little hard for me to adapt to having “Christmas” before Christmas Eve, but the logistics make sense – it’s a way to get everyone together and still leave room for in-law gatherings, individual family Christmas mornings, and whatever else may be planned.   Still, today feels like the day after Christmas, not the day before.

But now, I can look toward the church service tonight and set my heart on a time of worship.  I can draw into this quietness and get peaceful and contemplative; pondering the night so long ago when love became man.  I can take this time and turn my mind to the beauty of the season, but even more, to the majesty and immensity of the plan.

It’s something that I’ve heard so many times that I have to stop and really think about it to realize how amazing it is…  God Almighty, eternal, holy, creator of the universe… becoming not only human but a helpless baby, dependent for everything – food, shelter, diapers – everything.  Not just making himself human, but making himself as humble, as low as could be – a baby, in a barn, in a feed trough.  Attended by smelly shepherds.  Homeless for the first few years of his life.  Raised as a laborer.  Living as an itinerant preacher with a following of lower-class workers.  Never given any worldly status, he spent his life teaching and serving, and died by what is still considered the worst form of execution.  Deliberately.  All by choice.  Every day, every minute, planned, expected, known.  Nothing took him by surprise, nothing got out of control.  It was planned from the beginning of time – for me.  For you.  Because we need a savior.

The chaos and fun and family is wonderful, but I’m kind of glad I have this quiet time to reflect and remember why.  Not just to remember a baby in a manger but truly remember WHY – my sin, my need, his love…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

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