I couldn’t sleep this morning. Not because I was looking forward to opening presents. Not because I couldn’t wait to go to our family gathering (or eat the accompanying food). No. I couldn’t sleep this morning because I went wakeboarding for too long yesterday, and got all water-logged. That meant that my nose was blocked up all night and so I had to breath through my mouth, which led to it drying out and lining itself with funky slimey mucusy stuff.
The point is that I now find myself sitting outside (having had a drink of water) listening to the birds singing in the crisp morning air. The clouds are soft, like velvet, and the sun’s early rays penetrate through to cast everything in this kind of surreal light. On one level it seems quiet, but when you start listening, the cicadas in the garden, the birds all around, and the cows a few paddocks away create so many layers of noise that it is hard to isolate any one sound. It’s summer here in New Zealand, and so there’s no snow to be seen, instead the flowers are blooming adding fresh explosions of colour to the scene.
On one level it seems like just another beautiful morning. And yet this is the day we celebrate Christ’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem. It seems just sooo Christian to tell everyone to ‘remember the reason for the season,’ but all too often my thoughts end with that. All too often I try to force out a few wee thoughts on Jesus before I can get into my presents. It’s been a long time since I’ve just sat, and mused, on Christmas.
As I sit here, looking out on thousands of different shades of colour, all mixed and arranged to form one beautiful picture, it occurs to me that I view this sight completely differently in light of Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection. I do not know what it would be like to view this outward beauty without the inward contentedness that my sins are forgiven, my eternity secure, and that God now looks with favour upon me, all because of the person of Christ. I think the truths of the gospel act as a lens that sharpens, defines and impresses the beauty of the natural world on the soul.
On Christmas day we celebrate Jesus’ birth. To tell the truth, though, I find it hard to think of his birth in isolation, apart from other aspects of his life and death. I prefer to think of Christmas as a celebration of Christ in all his fullness. But wait! Don’t we have Easter to remember his death and resurrection? Indeed we do, but even then, we can rejoice in his birth as well. I guess I’m a bit of a renegade, a rebel if you like, in that when we’re supposed to be thinking of Jesus birth, I think of other aspects of his person. Maybe I should have more profound thoughts on the significance of God coming in human form, and more insight into the paradoxical implications of this. I hope this will happen as I grow more in knowledge and faith, but for now I’m content that Jesus is, to me, far more than simply a historical figure. The songs sung about him are no longer mere words, but significant proclamations that ring true with what I have experienced of him.
So this Christmas, do enjoy spending time with family and friends. Do enjoy giving and receiving presents. Do enjoy whatever traditions you have. But I would encourage you to spend some time this Christmas just sitting. Sitting and musing. Do more than just the token thought of Jesus, I encourage you to set aside time to reflect on the fullness of Christ.
Merry Christmas everyone!