Most of us are entering into the Christmas season and trying to figure out how to take care of the needs of our loved ones, keep feeding the masses, maintain our responsibilities and stay sane. Yet, there is a part of me, through the years, that has learned to “give in to the Christmas Season.” I don’t mean the commercialism or being too busy and over committed. But learning to enjoy the gifts given, however simple, the simple celebrations of home, the lights and the mystery of imagination that can be so much a part of the joy of life.
From my earliest childhood, I remember Christmas as a time of lights, sparkles, smells, color and delight. Christmas touches on parts of our lives that point to the ways God wants us to find delight and joy throughout eternity. Most nights in December, I would sit under our tree and look at the lighted loveliness and dream about life, and what I might someday become. Romantic thoughts of every kind floated through my head.
One of the gifts my mother gave to me through this sacred season was a love for hospitality--sharing this sparkly life, love, friendship, beauty with those in our community.
Sometimes the imagination for us to ponder that Jesus is preparing a feast for us, that He cast the stars into place where the angels sang, to understand His glory comes from experiencing this kind of sparkle, beauty, light, celebration in our real lives.
God as a light to brighten our lives becomes real when a child sits under a sparkling Christmas tree and hears, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6
“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” is much more easily imagined in a home where hot cinnamon rolls are consumed with great joy together as they emerge from the warm oven.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” - (Luke 2:14) is more easily believed in a home where the sparkles of beauty show the possibilities of a heavenly sky and the generosity of love gently given through a warm touch or sweet words are given when peaceful relationships are shared.
The hospitality of God, His desire to give food to the hungry thousands who had come to see Him, to provide manna for his traveling millions across the desert, the banquet at the end of the world can be imagined when hospitality is a grace of every day life.
My father was, for most of his life, a real extrovert. He loved people and the more the merrier. Often, we would have a hundred people in our home at once--they just spread out all over the house and yard and the porch and everywhere! Sometimes it was friends from church or neighbors and kids; sometimes business associates and people from a larger arena. But all made themselves comfortable all over our home, sitting on furniture or the floor or even a blanket on the grass--people everywhere coming together to share in moments of life.
In preparation, all of us kids were assigned rooms to clean, goodies to make in the kitchen, dishes to wash, lawns to mow. We were the staff my mother learned to employ. Because it was a part of the oxygen we breathed in our home, we all became used to playing host. And so, my children have also grown up decorating tables, cooking, putting lights outside, and providing the candles and music that adorn each event in our home. Sometimes that meant they would have to share their bedroom and sleep on our bedroom floor. But always, hospitality was an adventure we engaged in together.
These patterns of sparkle, delectable smells, love shared were generously strewn through the moments of Christmas that our children could more adequately imagine our savior come to the world to love, to celebrate life, to create beauty, to restore and generously give us life.
The messes are not all tamed, ever--there is always a pile somewhere, or dust or a smudge--but who would notice with all the people living and laughing and sharing life? Perfection was never the goal, but rather, reaching out to people to serve them.
I look back to my childhood years as the time I learned all about making my home a place of life and food and fun--to my mom who taught us to work, to greet, to serve little trays of food around the house and to learn to love serving the life of Jesus, to enjoy celebrating the breadth of life well in the walls of our home.
This Christmas, I pray you’ll find ways to spread Christmas cheer first to your own home—and then maybe invite someone in to enjoy it with you!
Peace be with you today.