We walked into church one Christmas Eve to a stunning display in the foyer. There was a shining gold and silver tree stretching to the ceiling, lights were glowing everywhere, and poinsettias filled every corner. It was magnificent.
As we walked into the church sanctuary we noticed it was dark and cold. There were no decorations – just a shack made of old wood and a makeshift trough. The contrast was disturbing and the sermon was convicting. It compared the decadence with which we celebrate compared to the harsh reality of the first Christmas. It challenged us to remember the reason we celebrate in the first place.
So I have a challenge for us this Christmas. Sometime, in the midst of the presents and the feasting and the music, take a minute and step outside. Stand out by yourself in the cold and the quiet, and remember.
Remember Mary and Joseph, alone and afraid. Remember the pain and mess of childbirth.
Remember the joy of new life. And the peace of a promise kept.
Remember the baby. Remember Jesus.
Then go back inside, and fully enjoy the food, and the family, and the gift-giving…all the while remembering.