Emotional commitments to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long
fade faster than tinsel blows away in winter winds. As we come to the
end of December, we take down the tree, pack up the figures of the
nativity, and put away the lights.
But what will we do with the Christ-child at the center of it all?
Will we relegate him to the packing box as well?
His birth was announced as “good news of great joy for all the
people” (Luke 2:10). The thing to do with good news is pass it on.
Even before Jesus’ birth, Mary headed into the hill country to visit
her much older cousin Elizabeth who also was expecting. Elizabeth was
filled with the Holy Spirit and encouraged when Mary walked in the
door. John leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of his
cousin, Jesus. The two women shared their joy in the goodness of the
Lord. They drew support and strength from each other during the three
months they were together (Luke 1:39-56).
Joseph and Mary shared Jesus with rough shepherds and erudite kings.
The new parents carried their child into the temple where the
faithful prophets Simeon and Anna realized the fulfillment of their
hope for the coming of the Messiah (Luke 2:25-38).
When the Holy Spirit convicted Joseph that the oppressive and
intrusive government meant to harm his child, he did not hesitate to
move them to a place where the life of Jesus could be preserved and
grow in their little family. They followed God’s leading back to the
wider circle of family and friends in Nazareth after the danger had
passed (Matt 2:13–23).
Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and grace at the family table, in the
carpenter shop, in the village market place and synagogue and in
attendance at the great festivals of the faith in Jerusalem (Luke
2:39-52). When Mary and Joseph found conflicts between their
understanding and anxieties over what was best for their child and
what the Father wanted for him, they gave thoughtful reflection and
respect to his development and influence even as he honored them with
obedience (Luke 2:47-51).
The spiritual life of the people was centered on the temple before
Jesus came. He carried the life of God to fishermen, shepherds, tax
collectors, Roman centurions, men and women of questionable pasts,
lepers, and children at play. He taught them that God was for them,
loved them, and would live within them (Luke 4:18-19; John 3:16-18;
5:1-11). He does not live in temples made of human hands (Acts
7:48). We live within him and he within us (Acts 17:24-28).
Our heavenly Father entrusted Mary and Joseph to carry his only
begotten Son out of the stable and into the world. Redeeming grace
dawned long ago. The manger is long since empty. The cross of Calvary
is empty too. We live by the pardon of his mercy, and the power of
his grace. His life is our life (John 4:19-20). The kingdom of God is
realized within our midst (Luke 17:21). But who would know that
Christ the Savior is born in us?
There are questions that beg to be asked regarding our post-season choices.
Will we share the joy of the Christ-child with others struggling with
the mysteries of the new life born within them like Mary did with Elizabeth?
Will we worship the Christ-child with the rough and the refined alike
without any other qualification than their open minds and hearts to
his attraction as Mary and Joseph did with the shepherds and kings?
Will we carry the Christ-child with us to church as Mary and Joseph
did? Not everyone does that you know.
Will we patiently wait alert and focused in prayer on the revelation
of Christ to the congregation as Simeon and Anna did despite the
complacency, mindless obeisance to tradition, and corruption around them?
Will we take the steps necessary to protect and nurture the life and
love of the Christ-child in our families by the leading of the Holy
Spirit as Joseph did in taking his little family to Egypt and
bringing them back when the time had come?
Will we take him with us into our work place and the daily business
of living as Joseph did?
Will we be open to amazement and new spiritual understanding in the
questions and answers the Christ-child evokes in us and others as we
engage with him as Mary and Joseph and the scholars did in the temple?
Or will we put him in the box and set him on the shelf until
tradition and our sentimentality dictate that we bring him out again
next year? If so, can we complain that the world does not know him?
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take
refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.
Kent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.
Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Placespublished by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.
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