It’s Christmas time, and I am more melancholy, reserved, and contemplative than normal.
My neighborhood is not enjoying “peace on earth and goodwill to all men.” More than any other year in my memory, my country struggles with theological, philosophical, ethical, moral, political, gender, class, and ethnic confusion.
Families in my church are really struggling. 2020 has left some scars — vocational, financial, physical, and relational.
In my family, my mother is quickly recovering well from the COVID virus. My father, on the other hand, is more slowly recovering from the COVID virus and a bad fall. Sadly, it looks like we will miss celebrating both his birthday and Christmas with him this year. My mother-in-law, Barbara Evans, is enjoying the physical presence of her Savior. Gloriously, she is looking at Jesus face to face. Sadly, we have not been able to celebrate Christmas with her for several years. Meanwhile, my father-in-law is enjoying the presence of his Savior, but not yet in glory. He is dwelling in the mountains of northern Georgia, but he is trying to make the best decision as to whether or not to head down the mountain and celebrate Christmas with this family who has been so close to the COVID virus,
And today, it is Sunday morning, and I am keeping my distance from friends at church. Until I get the clean bill of health, I do not want to take the chance of sending the COVID virus their way. Like many, I am having to worship away from my church family and best of friends.
For some reason, Santa, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown don’t seem as important this year. Peppermint bark, fudge, and egg nog are not such big deals. Gift-receiving and gift-giving are taking a back seat. This season, I am just not so enchanted with Christmas “hymns” from non-believing rockstars.
Yes, it’s Christmas time, and I am more melancholy, reserved, and contemplative than normal.
However, it is most likely the most worshipful Christmas I’ve had in quite some time.
I find myself more committed to relationships than ever before. I am slowing down with my church brothers and sisters. Gathering with the body is less a traditional ritual or modern program; it is more and more like a family reunion. And in regards to my personal family, I am learning to savor the days. I know, more than in other years, the days will change.
I am less busy running to school events, church recitals, and parties than in previous years. This means I have more time to sit, read, meditate, and pray. My head and heart have been freshly warmed by God’s scriptural authors and his post-scriptural teachers. Teachers are a gift from the Lord, and this Christmas season I have had more time to sit under their religious direction.
I am swimming in the pool of Gospel grace with greater delight than previous years. This one-way, monergistic, covenant-keeping, love of God is really starting to resonate with my soul. I’m getting it. I’m getting him. He loved me enough to come to earth, live a surrogate life, die a substitutional death, and send his Spirit to seal the deal. Christ’s love is thrilling to my soul.
I am hungry for a more experiential relationship with my Father, Son, and Spirit. My regular prayer these days is, “Father, grant me more fascination with you than anything or anyone else. Pour your love into me and cause me to love you more than I do. Help me love righteousness and your ways. Help me abhor wickedness with righteous indignation. Help me to know you — in my head. Help me to KNOW you with my heart.”
Yes, this year, while missing certain Christmas festivities and traditions, I am not missing Christ. He is calling my name. He is arresting my attention. He is drawing me closer. He is warming my heart. He is fanning the flames of joy. Despite the weirdness and pain, this is a grand time of year. To Jesus Christ be praised.