Remember to Peer into the Face of God

Post a Comment » Written on December 22nd, 2004     
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PORTAGE, IN (December 22, 2004)  – Editor’s note: In preparation for the  Christmas observance, Covenant Communications is sharing seven  devotionals that originally appeared in local church newsletters and are  being published here by permission. The following comes from Jody Sen,  co-pastor at the Evangelical Covenant Church. She reflected on a  Christmas experience after reading the late Mike Yaconelli’s book  “Dangerous Wonder,” an adventure of childlike faith.

By Jody Sen

When I was little, the most fun I had on Christmas morning was opening  the stockings. It was the first thing bleary-eyed mom and dad let us open.

My mom went all out (with packing the stockings). She would wrap every  single thing, every pack of gum, every chapstick and pair of socks. Mom  was a stocking maniac! But when we got older, stockings lost their charm – we wanted to get to the bigger and better of Christmas morning. We  would forget about the stockings until the middle of our Christmas  movie, or late in the afternoon. And we would get a little excited,  something new to open, probably socks but maybe something cool, too. We  lost the excitement over something mom still worked on, but mom continued to do it.

One Christmas I was away at college and able to come home for Christmas.  It was late Christmas Eve and mom was about to talk my ear off. She was  happy to have me home, but I had a surprise I wanted to get to.

A few days before, while in the midst of finals, mom had told me she  could not do the stockings that year. She felt horrible about it, but I  kept telling her it was not a big deal, that we didn’t mind, that  stockings were unnecessary. An idea was forming in my sleep-deprived  brain (however). I would secretly take the job of the stockings. So, my  mom was talking my ear off on Christmas Eve but I still had a few things  to wrap.

I did not appreciate all the work my mom did with those stockings; it  takes forever to wrap everything for five stockings, six if you count  the one the pets shared. I had to pretend to fall asleep on mom so she  would go to bed to leave me to my secret work. I had a great time  staying up very late to stuff the stockings and was excited to see who  would notice.

In light of Yaconelli’s book, it is not surprising that it was my  youngest sister, Jaime, who noticed the stockings. And listening to  their dialogue over the stockings was so much fun I finally burst out  laughing and confessed and everyone was interested in stockings again. I  loved to see mom’s stocking full; she had never spent her energy on  herself and made sure it was fun for us.

But I’m not just writing about peering into a stocking at Christmas. It  is appreciating the gifts of God in family, in friends, in time spent  with and for others. It is peering into the face of God. It is peering  into the manger. Can you imagine the joy felt by those Magi that came to  visit Jesus as a child, some months after he was born? Can you imagine  the joy the shepherds felt that night as they visited Jesus after he was  born?

Every year, Christmas is a time of brushing up against that joy of God’s  creation, of a joyful God sending His son to the earth He created in  order to save it from itself. I believe that when God was speaking the  world into place, He was having a great time! After each thing He made, He said it was good. The only thing that was not  good was that the man was alone, so God fixed that. And suddenly there  was human fellowship and family and God was at the center of it all.  What a great party!

But we forget that – we cruise through life, often at breakneck speed,  and miss the joy that God intended for us. We miss the laughter of  children, sun rays through clouds, the vibrant colors of fall, and  raindrops through the trees. And at Christmas time, the film between  Heaven and earth is at its thinnest and we miss the joy of that.

Memories of the past can be a huge barrier that can block our ability to  experience joy. But can we choose the good to remember? We can ask God  to touch and redeem those memories. Only He can take the sting out of  them – He can accomplish so much more than we can on our own. Or we can  find a spiritual partner, much like what Mary did in her going to stay  with Elizabeth after Gabriel gave her the news of the Son she would have. Mary could have done many things: she could have hid in shame, she  could have slinked off in the night, but she went with her cousin, who  was also pregnant. And her stay with Elizabeth was so inspiring and  God-led that Mary sang a song of joy, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).  Journaling can also be helpful, not just to dwell on the events but to  ask God to come in and heal them, inviting the Holy Spirit to give  insight, guidance and help . . .

The simple fact of the season is this: God sent His only Son, whom he  loved, to save the creation He made, whom He also loved. The God who  spoke the Heavens into place, who breathed life into the nostrils of the  first human, sent His Son to be born among us as flesh and blood. God  sent Him to live with us as a brother, teacher and friend. And God sent  Him to die for us so that we might again – as it was intended in the  beginning – have fellowship restored. All this so that we could live  eternally with God.

“Santa” brings gifts, but Jesus is THE gift. Let’s all hold onto that.  When we peer into our stockings, may we not forget to peer into the face  of God, that Baby that was born to us so long ago, in the manger, under  a cold sky, under His own star that He created with God. That is an  amazing wonder, an amazing joy.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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