“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1:14
“God looked over everything he had made;
it was so good, so very good!” Genesis 1:31
“Everything is already yours as a gift.” 1 Corinthians 3:21
The hot cinnamon tea went down easy today – a day that was only reaching 3 degrees outside. My wife sat across the table from me at our favorite breakfast cafe. Its nestled right up next to the mountains. With a view so close your eyes can taste pine. Yep, I said that right.
She’d just probed my heart with a question, “How are you doing this season?” And I was in the middle of some drawn out confession about how I really didn’t feel all that spiritual this season and probably needed to start reading something, like a devotional, to get my heart into it all.
Our waitress arrived with the food and we stopped to savor those first few bites. I say savor but truly we devoured them. Who knows what causes such a ravenous appetite in two grown adults? Oh right! We’re parents of a two year old and highly trained in the “shovel it now or maybe never” method.
Now it was her turn to answer the same question. She paused, pointing her fork towards the delicious avocado omelet in front of her. “This is Christmas for me. This and our tree and hanging stockings and those cheap little LED candles in the windows. Its been all the physical things that have helped my heart this year.”
I stopped eating my huevos rancheros and looked her way. This just seemed to be heading towards profound.
“I just think God cares about physical things too. And I don’t think its right to make this whole season about the spiritual.”
You know what, she was right. It hit me that the whole point of this season is to celebrate that God “put on flesh” and dwelt among us. He became touchable, that little vernix soaked boy child, or manifested physically or whatever the theologians would say.
And not only this, but the whole point of his coming was to save us not just spiritually, but physically. He will save your body. We will be resurrected bodily. And not just us, but the whole creation, as Paul tells us, is groaning for its redemption too. To be free of decay and spoil, when God comes to make this place right again.
Jesus became stuff to save stuff.
Not just souls, but stuff. You and me and the stuff of our lives.
We like to trash the American way of doing Christmas, saying its too materialistic. That it kills the true Christmas spirit. And when Black Friday ink bleeds into Thanksgiving Thursday, its easy to jump in the commercialism brow beating. Indeed, something isn’t right about a man in a tent for five days outside Walmart just to get a new TV.
But we’re seeing it upside down. It’s not “too much stuff” but rather “not enough.” I don’t think we’re being materialistic enough. We make Christmas about the trinkets held hostage inside a wrapped box. That’s it. Those few little relics, our spoils of war. And yet we have a whole world of stuff made by God that we never let in.
Our resident toddler gets this. No one told him he’s not supposed to like the box and the paper as much as the thing inside. Just the other day he asked us to dig the penguin wrapping paper out of the trash so he could play with it. Well, sure bud. We can do that. And a little child led me to see this all over again.
I want to invite you to make this Christmas more about stuff. Yep, be more materialistic.
Make it about the presents. I mean really. Stop and be present to the stuff you get. Read the card, admire the wrap job, and be grateful for the hands that tucked those edges like a ninja. Then take out that prized possession and put it on, play with it right away, lather on that lotion.
Drink your egg nog and make those Starbucks runs. Sit idle in front of your tree and let that breath you’re holding go. Savor those sauced up little weenies. God made those taste buds by the way. And those eyes of yours to be in awe. Thank God for your body.
But then keep going.
Make it about the people in the room with you. Think about it: they could be anywhere else. But they are with you. Let them matter in the truest sense. Are you aware they are flesh and blood? I mean really look at their faces this year. Do you see the character only they embody? And do you see the new lines of suffering from this years sorrows?
Now go even further than this. Enjoy your house, touch its banisters, see those marks on the wall from your kids or dog or smoothie explosion. Admire your neighbors house, and the trees and the woods and the mountains behind you. And all the roads and hills and seashores that eventually connect you to the whole of this great big world.
Let it all in.
God made it all good at one time – everyone and everything. And he came to get it back and make it even better.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you taste, touch, smell and see that God is near this season.