This time of year I find myself feeling sentimental.
I’ve always loved Christmas. As a kid it was the presents. Most kids enjoy opening gifts and I was no exception. I remember asking for a Nintendo one Christmas and my parents claimed it wasn’t going to happen. I believed them because I knew we didn’t have much money. The night before Christmas, while I couldn’t fall asleep, I heard the sound of Mario on the TV. Not only had my parents purchased the gift of my dreams, they were trying it out, and getting mad that they couldn’t win!
Years later it became less about the gifts and more about delicious goodies, especially the ones my mom would make each year. She was slightly famous for making white chocolate peanut candies. I loved those things.
In recent years, my Christmas obsession has had more to do with Christmas lights and family. If you drive by my house, you will see a light display in progress. Each year provides some small addition as I attempt to light up my house and bring cheer to the street. This year has been especially frustrating on the light front, because an injury to my knee has kept me from going all out. On top of that, the lights are constantly breaking. There is nothing more challenging to fix than a strand of Christmas lights.
I’ve also grown to appreciate time with family much more. Three years ago my mother died two days before Christmas. That was a strange year without much celebrating. Since that time, I still struggle on Christmas, but I also appreciate the time with family even more. Even the family in Wisconsin who are devoted Green Bay Packers fans.
Even more than all these things, this season has become the joyful reminder I need of Jesus. Advent, the time of expectant longing for the savior. I love teaching about Jesus this time of year because I’m pointing to a time of profound joy. A time when the savior entered the world to reclaim it as his. While I reflect on Jesus coming as a baby, I’m also drawn into reflection that he will come again and set this world right.
My awesome Christmas lights (no bias there) provide light for the street, but Jesus provides light to the world. The book of Revelation tells us that some day, Jesus will return, and his light will be all we need.
Jesus born in a manger in the past, and Jesus coming on the clouds in the future, give me hope. It is this hope that the volunteers at NCN try to share every year at this time. We work with many children who won’t open gifts this Christmas. They won’t enjoy family gatherings because their families are broken. They may not enjoy light at all, because of unpaid bills. These children need Jesus, the greatest gift the world has ever received. They need Jesus, the light of the world to provide them with hope. They need to see Jesus, who welcomes them into his loving family and promises to be with them always.
Pray with me, that Jesus, the light of the world, will break through this Christmas season, and provide for all the children, and families, a hope that will never end.