What Will You Wake Up to This Christmas?

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When I awake, I am still with you – Psalm 139:18b

Most Christians will awaken tomorrow to celebrate Christmas.  (Those following the Gregorian calendar will celebrate it in a few weeks.)  Christians will rise to face a variety of external circumstances.  Perhaps for a lucky few they will find life imitating art or at least commercials with new Lexuses in their driveways adorned with huge bows on top or diamond pendants from Kay’s jewelers under the tree.  Some may wake to find so many electronic gadgets and gizmos that their living rooms could easily be mistaken for the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Still others will awaken behind bars having found Christ after their incarceration and for others their profession of Christ is the source of their imprisonment.  Some will awaken to a quiet house once bustling with activity that now sites eerily silent as a result of death or divorce.

For some Christians, Christmas is not a day for exchanging gifts but merely another day of eking out an existence.  I recently saw on the evening news heartbreaking images of Syrian Christians facing starvation caught in the no man’s land among the various factions in their country’s civil war.

I suspect many reading this will wake to circumstances somewhere between the extremes of opulence and abject poverty, somewhere between “things are going swimmingly” and “things have never been worse.”  There is however one circumstance that will unite all who are in body of Christ.  We will all awaken in his presence.  God wrapped himself in flesh and was born to come to live with us on earth, and ultimately die for us.  He became Immanuel, God with us, and a tangible reminder of his presence.  Even prior to Christ’s incarnation, David’s soul rhapsodizes in Psalm 139 about ever being in the presence of God.  He asks rhetorically, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast – Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV).

What is so special about God’s presence?  We again look to David who tells us in Psalm 16:11, In your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (emphasis mine).  For the Christian, being in God’s presence is a current possession and forever promise.

As I’ve grown older my perspective on Christmas has changed.  I was no different than the typical child of my time and culture.  I had a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve in eager anticipation of the gifts I would wake to receive the next morning.  Now it’s not really about the gifts I’ll be receiving tomorrow.  In fact I told my wife that I honestly did not want any Christmas gifts year as I made several major purchases during the course of the year.  I have already received the greatest gifts imaginable, the gift of eternal lift and the gift of God’s eternal presence.  Thomas Chisholm, the writer of the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, eloquently describes these gifts;

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

We must remind our children and even ourselves sometimes is that Christmas is not so much about what we receive, but rather what we give.  The chief recipient of our gifts is God.  The Magi presented the young child Jesus with the expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  We may not have the material resources to offer these types of gifts, but we can all offer something infinitely more valuable and precious to Jesus, regardless of our financial standing.  We can him our adoration and praise.

Oh, come, let us adore him,

Oh, come, let us adore him,

Oh, come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord.

 

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2 comments

  1. Pastor Kerry What a thought provoking message . I was getting ready to send out texted Season greetings And not by accident your post came up Thank you sooooooo much for the reminder I am going to read at diner for my family. May God continue to bless you and your family. May 2014 be beginning of all the”best” for you. Love you and miss you sincerely Bea Jones. Give Cynthia my regards

    1. Thank you Rev. Bea for your kind words. Ironically Christmas has caused me to look more at those who are hurting at a time meant to be joyous. Regardless our lot, we can all lay hold to having his presence. I was listening to the Kirk Franklin Christmas CD and there is a line from it that says, “the greatest gift for me, is not under the tree” to which I amen! May God continue to bless you and allow you to be used for his glory in 2014