Family traditions are straight up random when they don’t belong to your family. I’ve been quizzing friends and acquaintences this season to see what I’m missing by not being part of your family for Christmas. A lot of people all wear new pajamas on Christmas Eve. Several families actually hide pajamas for everyone to hunt. One family plays a giant game of hide and seek in the dark late Christmas Eve – this includes Grandma.
I didn’t ever think of our family traditions as odd… until I verbalized them to several people this year and everyone shook their heads knowingly. “Yep. Your family is weird too.” Perhaps it was the fact that all of the kids slept in the same room (even as recently as just a few years ago), or the random assortment of goodies in our stockings (batteries, tic tacs, and a lint roller), but I think it was the fact that we still claimed our spots for our Santa gifts when I was 20 years old. We also used to identify the earliest time everyone could wake up on Christmas morning. As soon as we stepped out of the Christmas Eve service at church, the bartering would begin. When we were really young we used to open Christmas gifts around 6:30am. We’ve now progressed to roughly 8:30 or 9:00am.
Christmas Eve for the past few years has been spent at my Aunt and Uncle’s Church. We usually attend a later evening service. It’s beautiful. They often have a professional vocalist from the Houston Opera, a full orchestra, and a massive choir. The pipe organ is gorgeous. As I look around and see teenagers checking fantasy football scores and texts on their phones, I can’t help but notice my own distractions. I have to turn off my desire to wonder about the fonts chosen for the bulletin or the turn-around for the next service. “You do not work here. Stop worrying about child-care.” The distractions of the season are everywhere and they beckon us to concern ourselves with just about anything but the Christ-child in the manger.
We started a new sermon series in youth this month looking at The Story. My hope was to strip away everything that’s been added and pull out just the story from Matthew and Luke. Mary was not chosen out of her perfection, but out of her willingness. That first “Silent Night” that was probably anything but silent. For although our Savior was sinless, He was most certainly fully human… and much crying He probably did make. You get the idea.
All this to say, in five days, when you sit by yourself… or with your crazy family – in front of a tree, around a table, in a wooden pew, or on a cushioned chair… remember the 42 generations who awaited the birth of the Messiah. Recall the young teenage girl who gave up her expectations for God’s amazing reality. Picture the infant breathing His first gulp of air and wailing – and then the man who cried out and gave up His last breath on Calvary. This God made flesh has come.
“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9
Following and waiting,