“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” Luke 2:7.
I discovered this today as I surveyed my house, taking note that it is not donned with one, single Christmas decoration. Even the wreath sits on the front porch waiting to be hung. And my heart feels heavy with disappointment that I am not externally commemorating a holiday that is so spiritually rich for our family…for our faith.
I could make some really good excuses as to why my house sits naked of its Christmas attire: If I decorated, my dog would probably eat and destroy it. If bottle caps and remotes are interesting victims for him, one can only imagine what he would do with tinsel, evergreen, and ornaments. I could also add that my heart is in a hurry to get home to Seattle to be with family. My mom’s cancer has warped the lens of the “place” I call home.
Yet, in all honesty, the boxes of decorations have stayed safely stowed away because my heart has been content remembering Jesus without all the pomp and circumstance. This came into focus as I listened tonight to my boy read family devotions from Dietrich Boehoeffer’s Christmas writing. From prison he wrote,
“I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: “We’re beggars; it’s true.” The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.” (December 1, 1943)
That’s it! The house is bare because the heart is full of celebration. It doesn’t need the reminders. (Not that there is anything wrong with them! Any other year, I would be the first to hit the switch on the twinkling lights.) By no means am I in prison, like Boenhoeffer, but the truth of his words resonate with me. This year the birth of Christ is glorious and my heart is content and preoccupied with this truth alone. A tree, or lights, or stockings cannot make the glory of His birth more beautiful.
It seems that at Christmas more than any other time we do all the “right” things for many of the wrong reasons. In years past I have decked the house with all things red, green, and manger, but never has my heart prepared a welcome for Christ like it has this year. And so it may well be said that sometimes we do things “wrong”–like forgoing the decorations–for all the right reasons–like cherishing the simplicity of the Babe born in a manger.
How about you? Do you ever find that Christmas has you doing the right things for the wrong reasons? May the Lord settle your heart to cherish Him.