Monday, December 24, 2007

Already here

(Read Philippians 2:5-11)

I had my list all ready for this morning. With a PhD in Procrastination (dissertation still in the works), I usually end up doing most of my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. I used to love it that the stores stayed open late that night, but now, I have to hit the road early.

I had my gift choices written down, had marked exactly what stores had which, the best (and least crowded) routes to take. I had a plan. And then I opened my email, and God blew my plan away!

For there, from someone I don't know personally, was Christmas greetings. A sister in Christ down in New Zealand was writing to wish me, and everyone else on that cyber list, as she put it, a "Christmass filled with the Joy of the Christ Child. A Christmass when we take Him into our hearts, and remembering His ministry and teachings, and reach out to each other in Peace and Hope for the years ahead."

It's already Christmas in New Zealand and other parts of the world; it's already Christmas in places I may never visit, but God has; it's already Christmas, and folks have welcomed the Child into their hearts and homes once again, just as I am about to put the finishing touches on my 'planned' Christmas.

It's a good reminder that Christmas has already taken place. I don't need to make any more lists; I don't need to keep rushing around; I can stop worrying about making sure everything is ready for the worship services at the church; I can put my stress down at the entrance to the barn, and go in to be renewed in the presence of the baby.

It's a good reminder that, although Christmas came 2,000 years ago, it is never too late for me to welcome it into my heart, to humble myself as Christ did, to empty myself for others, to develop (and maintain) the same mind as the One who thought it important to think of me.

I wonder if I could 'exercise' my mind in this way in the coming year, by thinking of something to do every day to celebrate the Christ who has come to all of us. Maybe I could start each morning by saying, ' today I will celebrate Christ's birth by ______." Or, before I go to bed, make a note to myself, 'tomorrow I will honor Christ's birth by _______."

It might be something as simple as saying hello to that grumpy neighbor. It might be a commitment to spend a half hour a day tutoring a kid down at the school. It might be (finally) letting go of that anger at God that I have carried around for so long. It might be simply taking time during the day to go back to the stable, to sit down, and say to that little baby, "Okay, what do you want to teach me today?"

Maybe if I did that every day, then by next December 24th, I won't have to leap out of bed, grabbing for my list.

Prayer: You humbled yourself so that we might be lifted into the presence of Glory; you emptied yourself, so we might be filled with grace; you came, so we could no longer find excuses for coming home. Servant born in a stable, come to us this night. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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