My favorite holiday movie is “Miracle on 34th Street.” I love the older version of the film from 1947 as well as the newer one from 1994. There’s something about this movie that gets me in the right mood this time of year. Most of us have a favorite holiday movie, television special, or song that gets us going as Christmas Day approaches. At the very least, we have a holiday tradition that means so much. Perhaps we have a cookie exchange with friends or we visit a favorite concert hall for a Christmas show. And of course, many of us have Christmas Eve rituals at church and home.
Holiday favorites and yearly traditions are nice. I think one reason they are precious is because they make us feel safe. Engaging in the same experiences year after year fills us with peace. With lives that are often chaotic, we need to go back to those routines that are predictable and warm. Many traditions take us back to a time and place in which life was simple and the tenderness of a parent’s love was close by. Traditions also remind us of God’s incredible love that comes to us in the form of Christ Jesus.
Yet, as nice as it is to experience safety, this safety is not permission to be inactive in our life as a Christian. We are meant to be safe in God’s love so we can freely, and boldly, make a difference for others. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a song about wildly, outrageous gifts. Who would imagine giving three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree? Maybe the beauty of this song is that we need to give unexpected gifts.
Remember the first Christian gift. God presented humanity a gift that was unexpected. According to Saint Luke, God gave ancient Israel a baby born in the back of an inn with two overwhelmed parents. Who expected that? The people wanted a mighty king who would unify the nation and demolish the Romans. What they received instead was a baby who would change human history. Who saw that coming? Our God is constantly surprising us.
As Christmas approaches, might we be so safe in God’s love that we are free to be extravagant with our love, our time, and our energies as we reach out. Might we share the gift of Christian love with others!
Blessings to you! Scott