Once again Christmas Eve has arrived at the Davis house and so let me take this opportunity and wish you all a Joyful Christmas.
Now, for those of you who just cringed because Christmas is a hard time for you, please keep reading.
I live in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Victoria boasts (especially when it is snowing back east) Canada’s most temperate climate. However, this year we are experiencing a white Christmas. We haven’t had this much snow since 1996 – the last time I actually had to have the church parking lot plowed.
Snow in December is fun, but when you live somewhere that some years doesn’t get enough winter to even speak of, the arrival of large amounts of the white stuff can really disrupt the rhythm of left coast life. It’s not just people that experience this – deer do too.
In the outlying areas of our city we have many deer – mule deers to be exact. Our deer are used to wandering around and grazing wherever they go, but now that the ground is covered in snow, they have taken to looking for food in some different places. The other morning we noticed that we had had deer in our carport and around our vehicles (where there was less snow) looking for food. This gave me the idea to go out and buy a bale of hay to put on our front lawn for the poor little guys. In fact, when my neighbor saw me putting out the hay, she donated a box of apples she had given up on ever getting around to canning, or making applesauce with, or doing some other “appley” thing with.
I was pretty happy about this meal that was ready on my front lawn because I was imagining how wonderful and magical it might be if we had deer grazing on our front lawn over Christmas. The night of the day I put the hay out, I frequently went to our front window and slowly peered out to see if at least one buck had stopped here. However it wasn’t until 5 o’clock the next morning when I woke up (quite unintentionally I might add) that my waiting paid off. I quietly maneuvered through the house to our front window and slowly pulled back the blinds and there it was. On solitary deer, standing in our front yard, silhouetted against the snowy banks, . . . . . eating my hedge. Doe!
Stupid deer. I was crestfallen. Not only was I bugged because she was eating the part of our hedge we have a hard enough time getting to grow, but there on my couch in the darkness it dawned on me that that perfect grazing deer Christmas picture – that wonderful occasion I had invested $7.95 worth of hay on and shoveled a path to - was not going to happen. All that hard physical work and emotional energy and anticipation was gone: gone like hedge through a deer.
That happens a lot at Christmas. We invest so much time and money and energy and emotion into experiencing an event we think will make “our” Christmas, only to be disappointed by someone’s behavior, the wrong gift they gave us, or some unforeseen event.
For others, even trying to make Christmas the way we would want it to be is beyond our even bothering to try. The one we wish would be there is serving overseas or perhaps behind bars. Poverty, estrangement, custody arrangements, and death mean that Christmases past are just that – past.
And then, some pastor you have never met e-mails you and wishes you a joyful Christmas.
I really do wish you that – but joyful in the Biblical sense, not the cultural sense. In our culture, joy is a warm happy feeling that one experiences when one has everything they could have desired. In the Bible, however, joy is the quiet calm that clicks in our soul when we realize the solution to what ills our soul is here, is real, . . . is ours.
Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of our Savior – God’s solution for mankind’s greatest dilemma: our need to be forgiven for our sins so we can live for eternity s with a Holy God in whose presence imperfection cannot dwell.
Christmas joy is the quiet calm that floods our soul when we remember that God loves us so much sent His son to be born, live and ultimately die for us and save us. Remember, if God sends you a savior, you must need to be saved.
At Christmas time, it is the literal and metaphorical deers eating our hedges that should give us joy and not rob us of it. The trials and “sadnesses” of Christmas can remind us that Almighty God, in Jesus Christ alone, has given us the one Solution that satisfies the One it counts – Him.
May that reality cause a quiet calm to click in our hearts come what may this Christmas.
God bless you,