Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Presents to Presence

When I was a child I had the most difficult time preparing for Christmas morning. I couldn’t fall asleep and once I did I would wake up every hour or so in anticipation of what was to come. My parents had to have had a love/hate relationship with it. They knew that somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. I would be making enough noise so as to let them know… “It’s time!!!”

We, the children, of course, were prisoners in our own room. We had strict orders not to leave until our parents would open our doors. Finally that moment would come and I would rush out the door and always stand in awe of what was before my eyes. It was a very exciting time for me. It was a feeling I loved to experience for years.

This was the day we had been waiting for all year. Those hours spent on the floor in front of the JCPenney Catalog were finally going to pay off. The presents were here… Christmas had arrived!!!

The day after Thanksgiving this year I experienced something I had never experienced before… no not a turkey blowout… BLACK FRIDAY!!! (If you lower your voice it really does sound scary) the day after we celebrate all that we are thankful for has become the day of consumeristic overindulgence where we push and shove to get more stuff. I guess so we can be more thankful [insert sarcasm meter].

In this advent season we, who call ourselves followers of Jesus, celebrate His birth. His coming to our world! As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that all of this consumer craziness has become the biggest deterrent to a true celebration. We have become focused on the presents instead of His presence.

There is great awe in Christmas. God became flesh. He came to save us from sin and death, and make us whole and yet we still can’t wait to wake up and see all the stuff at the tree in the morning. It’s interesting… when Jesus showed up as a baby it wasn’t an event that captured the attention of the entire world. Only a few were even aware that it had happened. Everyone was still going about their usual routine. However, it was at that moment that the story of our lives was beginning to be rewritten. From one of sorrow and defeat to one of joy and victory… and yet nobody was paying attention.

Has much really changed? We have something to celebrate. Something great. May this season be one where we place our focus on Immanuel, Christ with us. His presence is here… Jesus has arrived!!!