This is reposted from Enola Gay’s wonderfully notorious Paratus Familia Blog. Enjoy! -JJS
An “Upper Room” Christmas
This morning, as I sat with my head bowed in prayer, I thought about our
upcoming Holy Days. I thought of family and presents and the birth of
our Savior. I thought of how, as a people, we are so easily distracted
from the shining light of truth and quick to cleave to worldly fancies,
forgetting the source of our very breath. This morning, as I sat with
my head bowed in prayer, my mind was filled with heady thoughts.
During the Christmas season, we attempt to encourage ourselves to
remember the “Reason for the Season”. We talk about celebrating “Jesus’
Birthday” and read the account of His birth in an attempt not to get
caught up in the spectacle that has become “Christmas”. We sing
Christmas carols, bake cookies and give each other gifts, all while
expressing our desire to emulate the greatest gift. But, when all is
said and done, we feel let down – like we are missing something.
Truth be told, Christmas, along with all of our holidays is celebrated
with food and family and friends. And that is right and good. Every
one of the holy days of the bible were celebrated similarly. They all
centered around God’s children (family) and feasting. The feasts were a
time of remembrance. God instituted celebrations as an opportunity for
His children to perpetually remember what He had done. Christmas in
our modern time is no different. It is a time to remember the Savior,
that is God, who became man in order to bring perfect reconciliation
between sinful mankind and a holy, blameless God. And we celebrate as
in times of old, with fellowship and feasting.
As wonderful as Christmas is, it is all too often overshadowed by strife
and discord. We are consumed with finding that “perfect” present,
baking cookies for every person we have ever met and decorating our
homes to look like a spread in a glossy magazine. And then, when the
day actually arrives, we feel nothing but dread. The family is coming.
Uncle Fred is difficult, Aunt Fran smells. And then there’s the drama
of Aunt Martha. She and her family always arrive late and grumpy, her
children are sullen, her husband is contentious and she is always mad at
someone in the family. It is so bad that the other brothers and
sisters take bets before she gets there as to who she will be mad at
this year. In reality, Christmas would be perfect if it weren’t for the
people. They are a burden and serve little purpose but to ruin the
“Norman Rockwell” image we have so carefully crafted in our minds.
And therein lies the problem. We are so set on celebrating a “perfect”
Christmas, trying to keep Jesus at the center, that we miss our true
calling – one of sacrifice and humility.
Sitting in church this morning, the picture of a perfect Christmas
played before my eyes. It had nothing to do with snow or trees or
presents. There were no carolers or elves or jolly red men. There was
nothing but a humble room, twelve men and a soul intent on doing the
will of His father.
Jesus, during his own last supper, revealed to us the perfect keeping of
the feast. He gathered his family (the twelve) together, for an
afternoon of fellowship and feasting. He prepared a feast for those he
loved. He ate and drank with them. He shared his soul. He even knelt
on the floor before each man, removed his sandals and washed his feet,
giving to him a perfect gift. He did this with full joy mingled with
heavy resignation. He celebrated this feast with his imperfect family,
knowing it to be his last feast on earth. He broke bread with the man
He knew would betray him for 30 pieces of silver. He drank from the cup
of the man that He knew would deny him three times. He gave perfect
gifts to a family that would betray and disown him. He knew it – and he
served them anyway. His was the perfect feast – the perfect Christmas.
As you gather together to celebrate our Lord, remember who it is that
you are serving. You are serving the One who kissed his betrayer on the
cheek. You are serving the One who loved the man who would deny Him.
Can you do any less for the family He has given to you?
This year, celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Forget the “Norman
Rockwell” vision of Christmas and embrace the “Upper Room”. Love those
that persecute you, serve those that revile you, kiss those that betray
Merry Christmas to you all. I pray that your “Norman Rockwell”
Christmas is replaced with the “Upper Room” Christmas and that God
reveals His perfect Gift to every last one of you.
Merry Christmas every one.