I sit in my favorite chair, feet up, sipping coffee, watching the snow come down, fireplace ablaze. Ah! This is what I love. I love the aroma of coffee early on a cold winter morning. I love the December darkness and stillness of a new day. I love this time with God, listening to His Word, talking to Him face to face.
As I look around my living room, I see the decorations of Christmas as they adorn our home. This all makes for a wonderful moment that I wish could last.
Our fireplace mantel is adorned with three frames spelling out the word “Joy.” The frames are white and silver and surrounded with other symbols of the season: trees, reindeers, bells, holly, birds, even a polar bear. They are monochromatic, all white and silverfish and showing the stylish hand of my bride.
The bookcase is adorned with a lighted garland. The red, green, and blue lights add a subtle touch to the ambiance. In front of the bookcase is a table with a nativity set. The silent figures of an angel, shepherds, animals, Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, all declare the birth of the newborn King.
The coffee table is decorated with a large wooden tray, laden with pine cones. In the pine cones are small white lights that enhance their appearance, with red berries interspersed throughout. In the middle of this arrangement is a large candle with three wicks. The centerpiece reminds me of the Light that has come into the world to those who walk in darkness.
And then right before me is our Christmas tree. A beautiful blue spruce we cut down just after Thanksgiving. It is decorated thoughtfully with many lights and all our favorite ornaments — many of which have great significance, including those handmade by our tiny granddaughters. They also remind us of people we’ve known, places we’ve lived, past Christmases and years of family and ministry.
But in the midst of this Christmas afterglow, I come to a realization. It is an “after” glow. It is all fading. The tree that looked so fresh in early December — once in her full glory of festive lights and the smell of fresh-sawn spruce, is now fading. It’s magic waning, now destined for chipping and recycling. There was that magical moment of unveiling when the ornaments were hung, the tree was lit, and the other lights turned down low. What a fresh display of Christmas magic! That moment is now long faded.
The holiday we call Christmas comes every year. It is new and fresh in early December, then stale and fading by Dec. 31. The magic of the holiday fades. The magic of Christmas fades with the removal and storage of all the decorations. But as we have seen in our Advent series, “The Deeper Magic of Christmas,” there is something greater, something more lasting, something supernatural and eternal about the Christmas story. With the birth of Jesus and His dramatic entrance into our lives, we no longer have to worry about “always winter but never Christmas.” Instead, it is always Christmas for us. “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
Interspersed with my favorite things and wonderful moments are remembrances of trials and difficulties of the past year. There was nothing magical about them. But a deeper dependence on God results from them, and hopefully a deeper walk of faith ensues.
The Christmas season is fading and the new year is fast approaching. I can face it with uncertainty and fear, or with refreshed hope and anticipation of new things that God will do, not only in my life, but in the lives of His people and His church!