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Remember the wonder of Christmas when you were a kid? If we're honest, adult Christmases usually bring some pangs of sadness and loss when we realize that this fallen world has stolen the childlike freshness with which we approach the season. But joy and awe are still there if we're willing to look for them. Here are some of the places I've found them:
"All is Well"
Our old buddy Michael W. Smith wrote a gorgeous choral Christmas suite that captures the spiritual impact of Emmanuel's arrival in a very special way. And of course, certain parts of Handel's Messiah will always send shivers down my spine. Chris Rice's "Welcome to our World" makes me cry, and especially did so the Christmas after my son was born.
Sure, some Christmas music is hackneyed and overplayed. (And did anyone else notice that radio stations found some terrible excuses to start playing it before Thanksgiving this year? Ugh.) But every once in a while I find a piece that just nails it and makes me remember ... and consider ... and feel ... all at the same time, what Christmas is about.
Anything Done by the Light of the Christmas Tree
I am a sucker for tiny white lights. Especially when I have a rare moment of peace in which I can turn off all the other lights and just revel in their glow. Two Christmases ago, during a time that was pretty difficult for our family, my husband and I spent several evenings drinking hot chocolate and praying together in the light of the tree after our kids were in bed. And we've continued the tradition each subsequent Christmas. It's one of the ways we find rest in a time that's too often harried and stressful.
The Stories of Simeon and Anna
Luke's rendition of the nativity is the lengthiest of the Bible's Christmas stories. He takes the time to weave in other stories connected with the Savior's birth. My hands-down favorite is the story of infant Jesus' dedication at the temple, for there we meet two elderly Jews named Simeon and Anna. These two know who the Christ is, and they are among the very few who are looking for Him as a baby.
Can you imagine? God has been silent for 400 years. Most of the nation of Israel is interpreting the prophecies all wrong, looking for a political Messiah. But these two get it. And for their trust and faithfulness, God rewards them by allowing them to see the Savior they've been waiting for all their lives — and to know it's Him. Simeon says it best when he tells God that he can die in peace now. The chance to meet the infant Immanuel has fulfilled his whole purpose for living.
Christmas Through the Eyes of My Kids
Watching my 4-year-old daughter deliver a handmade card and a Starbucks gift card to her preschool teacher made me swell with joy. Watching her eyes widen at the brass ensemble playing carols in the hallway at church did, too. I may have to wait for heaven to completely toss aside the jadedness and weariness of this life, but for now, living with small children at least gives me the chance to forget about them for moments at a time.
What are you doing to cultivate wonder this Christmas?
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