Christmas has been a very slow start for me this year. My tree is still not in my living room. The boxes marked Christmas are still in the garage. My mantle looks the same as any other season of the year. My Pandora Michael Buble Christmas station has yet to play. Only one present has been bought. My creative energy seems to be dormant, and nothing seems to have ignited it yet. I have put off all the traditional elements of the season and turned a blind eye to them.
Every year I struggle during and with the Christmas season: the stress, the expectations, the disappointments, the budget and the schedules take their toll. Struggle might be an understated description.
But this week a shift came in the bend of my attitude. The Spirit brought the shift at the most unexpected time and in the most unexpected place.
This week I was teaching and glanced up at the window of my classroom. Snow was whirling across the field next to us. Blowing at an angle were large white flakes swirling against the background of a weathered barn. Horses and llamas bent their heads against the snow and I bent mine towards it. I stopped teaching and just sat and stared out the window. I know my students thought Mrs. R. was having one of her squirrel moments, but I was unaware. Somehow the silence of that whirling snow penetrated through the concrete walls of the school and settled on me. The real Spirit of Christmas began to push past the crusted exterior of my heart. What an unexpected place for Christmas to call on me.
This week I spoke for a local church’s Christmas Tea. In the middle of sharing and gazing into these women’s dear faces the Spirit whispered to me. In my own message, the one I had attempted to craft out of the Word that had been hidden in my heart for the longest time, I heard His message in my own ear. For a brief moment I forgot where I was because all I could hear was what he was saying to me. And Christmas met me at the most unexpected time.
I shifted one more turn towards Christmas.
Christmas is a holy day. It is the season of celebration for the miraculous, unexpected Incarnation of the I AM.
Christmas is about the manifestation of Immanuel.
During this season we celebrate the Incarnation of God. God sent his only Son to put on the work clothes of flesh. He entered our world, pierced through the thin veil between the holiness of his Father and the profanity of us. God allowed himself to become dirt and he played with us in the mud puddles and got grimy and dirt-streaked in the fields.
He became us.
He didn’t come to be like us. This statement implies a simile. No, he became one of us.
He laid aside the raiment of his Deity. He set aside his status as the Holy One of heaven. He tucked his crown away and hung up his heavenly mantle in order to pitch his tent here among us. He came to become the Bridegroom and take away our shame and disgrace. He came to dress us in bridal clothes. He came to reconcile us to the Father.
Christmas is not just about the Baby in the manger. If we limit Christmas to this one facet then we have missed the purpose. The purpose is about how God Almighty, through Jesus, became Immanuel.
Come, Holy Spirit! Meet me in unexpected places and speak to me at unexpected times. Shift me again. Shift me until I have made the full revolution to where you want me to be this season.