What happened to Christmas?


Christmas is right around the corner, but it doesn’t really feel like it. Here I am in Indiana hanging out with my parents and waiting for the snow to come, for the anticipation to build, for the Christmas specials to start dominating the airwaves, for anything familiar to occur. So far it hasn’t hit me. What is it I’m really waiting for anyway? Perhaps the impact of the birth of a king?

What must it have been like for the shepherds that night; the night Christ was born? I imagine they settled in for another night just like the last and just like the one before that one. Their heads were probably bobbing as they dozed and then pulled themselves out of sleep only to nod off again seconds later. How exciting can watching sheep be anyway? They probably felt a little like I do: indifferent.

Then, with the explosion of angelic chorus, their nights took an unbelievable turn. The messiah for whom they had been waiting for along with thousands of years worth of ancestors now long gone was finally there. I can’t imagine the emotions roaring from the very core of their beings unparalleled by the emotions of any subsequent Christmas morning. How can I so flippantly travel through the Christmas season that commemorates God’s taking on of flesh that He might reconcile mankind to Himself? God give me the grace to feel it in my core in a way that no Christmas tradition can communicate.

Perhaps sometime when I least expect it it will come crashing down on me with the weight of the event itself. Sometime, when I’m going about my business and attending to all the Christmas traditions that are often done from force of habit, I’ll see it again for the first time and really understand what happened in a little town in the Middle East to make a motley bunch of shepherds join the chorus of angels and leave their sheep to see the Lamb of God with their own eyes. Oh come Emmanuel and remind this world-weary traveler of your boundless love manifest in human form!

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