As I begin writing this blog, large snow-flakes are gently falling; the ground is already covered, glistening with a covering of the freshly fallen snow. Our street is one of those where almost every house has some display of Christmas lights. Because I have “a bit” of the Santa Claus look, my son and I annually put 4 white-light reindeer on an upward-reaching branch of a tree in the front yard, giving the appearance of the reindeer flying away from our home. Just down the road is the most abundantly decorated house in the neighbourhood. The displays include an inflatable bear and an even larger snowman, various cartoon characters and animals, as well as a manger scene. When the lights come on at dusk, so does the music: a weird and wonderful combination of Christmas ditties and Christmas carols. The whole thing is a microcosm of our culture’s eclectic approach to the celebration of Christmas.
I love the opportunity that Christmas brings. The first part of the school year culminates with the annual Christmas program. This year, the OACS News Service tells the story of Toronto District Christian High School’s (TDChristian) presentation of 2000 Candles (http://www.oacs.org/2017/2000-candles-remounted-by-students/). TDChristian is just one of many schools where we can, without apology or reluctance, tell the story of the Christian faith while many others are curtailed in their ability to do so. Not only do we get to tell the story, it is expected of us! And so, we work to do this well and end up with evenings of great celebration and joy. People show up and pack our gyms and performing arts centres to hear just one more time about the birth of our Lord and Saviour.
And then when that is over and finally the doors of the school close for the Christmas break, where we can take time to celebrate with friends and family. There is something special about the gatherings and church services at this time of year. Singing is just a little better, spirits a little higher, and the joy more effusive. It is a gift that God gives us; He wants us to celebrate the birth of His Son and it is right that we do so. In the midst of all the distractions and busyness, the lights and commercialism, we get to settle in at the manger with its distractions and noises and be reminded of the greatest gift of God: His Son, our Saviour.
One of my favourite portions of Luke 2 comes toward the end when Luke describes Mary as pondering all the things that are going on and treasuring them in her heart. It is my prayer that you will find time this Christmas to settle in at the manger and thank God for the gift of His Son. I also pray that you will find much to treasure in your heart as you gather with friends and families in the days to come.
May His peace, His love, and His joy be evident to you and may the rest and blessing of our God be with you in this Christmas season and into 2018.