I love Christmas. Christmas cookies. Jolly music piped in stores. Twinkling lights. Wreaths adorning doors. Did I mention Christmas cookies?

Last year was different, however. My husband and I mustered the Christmas spirit and even set up two trees. When our church canceled Christmas Eve services, it felt like the Grinch had come to town and stolen the Christmas spirit. Two years ago, my sister passed away, and I returned from the funeral on December 23. Some years it’s dang hard to find the holly and jolly in Christmas.

Maybe it’s because we seek the wrong things. What if we focused on God, more specifically his holiness? Could we take a selah moment to reflect on his character and stop racing to the next Christmas event or shopping mall? We can wrestle and ponder his holiness through solitude, relationships, and community.

Mary pondered Jesus’ birth immediately after the shepherds reported the angel’s message. She treasured in her heart the enormity of bringing the promised Messiah into the world. We can spend time with Jesus this season by meditating on his Word and character. As the noise escalates to buy this, get that, hurry here, attend this, charge that, ask God to speak louder so you can hear him talk to you. 

After hearing the news from the angel that she would birth God’s Son, Mary raced to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting. Can you imagine their conversations during those three months? What if we gave the people in our family our full attention for one hour or one evening with no beeping or buzzing of electronics? Try gathering loved ones in front of a roaring fire or turn on the Christmas tree lights and read Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20, and Matthew 1:18-2:12 from your print Bible. Put yourself into the shoes of each character in the Christmas story. How might they have felt?

Since I was young, my family has attended Christmas Eve services. We’ve kept the tradition with our adult children. My favorite moment is when the congregation of weary shoppers sings “Silent Night.” For one holy moment, the candles light up the sanctuary and overwhelm the darkness. I imagine the shepherds surrounding the newborn baby by a tired Mary and Joseph with only the moon or a star as their light. Together they worshiped and maybe even sang to Jesus. Community worship delights and honors the Lord. 

Seeking the holly and jolly in this season is sure to disappoint. Sometimes we need to trim the excess, establish boundaries around our time, push back on the frenzy, and find time to reflect and ponder God’s gift of his Son. Let’s block out time this season to celebrate the most sacred of nights. 

Sally and her husband enjoy an easy rhythm of life as empty nesters. You can follow her on Instagram at @sacressman or read more from her at www.sallycressman.com.

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