For way too many of us, getting to Christmas is like running a marathon. When we finally cross the finish line, we’re finished, too: too tired, too cranky, too broke to really enter into what this holy day is all about.
But our children can teach us that Christmas isn’t just a season to get through. We’re not just trying to get past Christmas. We are to enter into the moment with all the joy, enthusiasm and even the noise that the children bring.
God didn’t make us to get past Christmas. God wants us to stop for Christmas because God made us for Christmas. God made us for this special time when heaven and earth intersect in Jesus. I know for a lot of us, Christmas is the only time when we can get close to Jesus, because he seems so small. There is nothing very threatening about a baby. You can get close to a baby and, because he is somebody else’s child, you can always give him back to his Mama and Daddy – which is exactly what many of us do after Christmas. We give Jesus back, to be tucked away until next year.
That’s one reason I have a gripe with most Nativity scenes. In them, the blessed Virgin Mary is depicted like most of humanity when Jesus shows up. She’s hands off. It takes a lot of digging to find a Nativity scene where Mary is actually holding her baby.
So I have an invitation for you today. I invite you to do the same thing as those rare Nativity scenes. I invite you to hold Jesus, to embrace Jesus, to claim Him as your own, and to invite Jesus into your life and not just into your Christmas.
I also invite you to do one other thing. Let your image of Jesus grow up.
In the movie Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell’s character likes to pray to the baby Jesus because He is so cuddly. Ferrell’s wife reminds him that Jesus grew up – and He did. Jesus grew up.
One of the potential distractions of Christmas is that if we just stay in this season we never see Jesus as a man, much less a Savior.
Rick Warren writes that, “If Jesus had never grown up to do what he did, he’d have no power to transform our lives. But the baby born in Bethlehem did not stay a baby. Jesus grew to manhood, modeled for us the kind of life that pleases God, taught us the truth, paid for every sin we commit by dying on a cross, then proved that He was God and could save us by coming back to life. This is the Good News.”
You see, Christmas is not the end of the finish line. It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of new life when you take that baby Jesus and let Him grow into your Savior.
You don’t even have to run the race. He has already done it for you. You just have to place your foot at the starting line. As soon as you do that, you will hear the angels sing Joy to the World. You made it. You made it to Christmas and to Christ.
THE REV. CYNTHIA TAYLOR IS THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY COMFORTER IN AUGUSTA.