I am back in Michigan, celebrating the holidays with my family. Tomorrow, we will host about 100 people at our house, for our annual Christmas Open House. We’ll eat, drink and laugh all day and night long. It’s a highlight of the season for us and we look forward to it all year. And then by the end of the night, as we fill the sink with soapy water, as we gather empty cups, as we pick up crumbs and rearrange the furniture, we’ll wonder, exhaustedly, what we were thinking having this many people over!
But as we finish the chores, and sit in the living room around the big Christmas tree, we’ll recount the day and the people, we’ll relive “the joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings” as the author of Isaiah puts it so aptly. “For a child has been born – for us! The gift of a son – for us!”
Christmas is a time of sharing. Sharing love, sharing smiles, sharing time, sharing gifts. God shared His best gift with us during this season, His Son. And it’s a moment to be celebrated. With “festival joy” as it says in Isaiah! With others? Yes, I love those quiet mornings spent by the lit tree, sipping coffee, reading a book. But I really love those evenings spent sharing stories with family, laughing with friends, catching up with people I don’t see in person often enough. That festival joy is contagious and it carries us through the rest of the winter. It gets us through the dark nights and the cold mornings. It gets us to Easter, to the spring, and the redemption, we all so desperately crave.
Over the next few days, consider how you can participate in this “festival joy”. Maybe it’s sharing Christmas dinner at the church, eating or serving, just being a part of it all. Maybe it’s smiling at a stranger in Target as you rush to get that one last thing. Maybe it’s sitting with someone who doesn’t get to tell her stories that often. Or maybe it’s simply by worshipping in a crowd on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is a great celebration. God has given us that gift. Use it. Embrace it. For Christmas comes but once a year.