A Growing Christmas

Christmas time always brings a swirl of memories to my mind from years past. I remember going to grandma’s house, sitting at her kitchen counter on big red swiveling bar stools, eating her wonderful home cooking, Christmas cookies iced with loving care. We would travel to see grandma and granddad, opening presents and enjoying extended family time. I remember going back one time when I was a little older, sensing how much smaller everything seemed. The kitchen counter seemed lower, the seats shrunken, and the house just a little bit tighter. Still the same loving grandma, though the absence of granddad was felt. Still the same wonderful time of the year, with presents and Christmas spirit but everything seemed a little diminished.

Perhaps you too have experienced this in your own life. As you have gotten older, returning to a familiar place from your childhood, you too have been struck by how different it all seemed compared to your memories. Perhaps that has happened with Christmas as well. When you were a child, you anticipated the arrival of Christmas with agonizing slowness but desperate excitement. Christmas seemed huge and looming for many weeks before the actual date. As children, we look forward to the big day and in child-like excitement, it builds in our minds to almost impossible size. As we grow into adulthood, the excitement, though still there in form, has diminished some. The cares of life and the responsibilities of adulthood bring Christmas down to a manageable size. Perhaps as adults we have a more appropriate perspective too; the emphasis shifting away from the receiving of gifts and presents, to family and giving and hopefully to rightly focusing on the reason for the season -  Christ Himself.

But with this new found, perspective, a Christ-centered view, shouldn’t Christmas seem bigger? I don’t mean bigger because of what has to be accomplished or what we have to get done, but bigger because we have truly come to understand in a deeper way the good news of the coming of the Christ Child?

Recently I have begun a personal study of the book of Hebrews. I am using a wonderful, devotional commentary by one of my favorite authors, Kent Hughes. In the opening pages of chapter one he recounts a story from C.S. Lewis’ children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. In these stories Aslan, a huge lion, is the portrayal of Christ. Into the land of Narnia, four children are magically carried and have interactions with this wonderful lion, Aslan. One of the children named Lucy, upon returning to Narnia, encounters him once again.

            “Welcome, child,” he said.

            “Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger!”

            “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

            “Not because you are?”

            “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me a little bigger.”

(qtd in Preaching the Word pg. 15)

Aslan was unchanged but Lucy’s perception of him had. As Christians two things should truly grow in our hearts and minds over the years. First, is our understanding of the depths of our own sin. Each year we should understand the depths of our sin and the capacity we have to stray. As we grow in our understanding of our sin, so too should a hatred for this sin and a desire to have the Lord root it out and kill it. Additionally, our understanding of the greatness of the love of the Lord should increase as well. When we see our sin, it should remind us of how much we are loved by the Lord, how awesome is His mercy and grace poured into our lives at the Cross, and how wonderful the God of the universe is.

This season of Christmas is about this God Who has communicated to us the good news of the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1,2a says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” What great news that God has communicated to us, His created ones! He has given us His Word, revealing to us the true reason for this season, which can grow and increase the vast love of God in our hearts and mind.

My prayer for us all this coming Christmas is that Christ will seem larger, more majestic, and even more loving than He did last year or the year before or when we were small children! Christ is the living God Who is unchanging yesterday, today or tomorrow. While He does not change, being consistent in His love and character, we who are ever changing and growing should see Him as greater and larger, certainly that we did when we were young. I pray that this Christmas season you will have a sense of wonder and awe, much like we had as children, but matured by years of experiencing his love and mercy!