It was colder in London yesterday, very grey with temperatures in the low 40s. It felt like a blank day. In the afternoon I decided to do some tidying up. I felt burdened with the problem of the day (involving some of our young people at church), and didn’t feel like doing any reading or writing so I began to look around to see what project I could get into to relax my mind. All of a sudden my attention turned into all of the stuff we used during the holiday season that need to be put away — all the Christmas ornaments, the silver fruit baskets, the placemats and napkins that are only used on special occasion, and many other things that were scattered everywhere. As I was carefully putting everything away, the pine cones caught my attention. I picked them up from the park in early December and painted some of the edges with white nail polish. These are natural and not artificial or man-made; a rather simple but unique pieces of ornament, all in different sizes. They reminded me of God and His beautiful creation. I wrapped each one of them with plastic, and carefully laid them out one by one inside a white box.
Unexpectedly, a feeling of Christmas came over me . . . a nostalgic memories of Christmas when I was a child — the magical wonderment of the holiday season, of opening presents on Christmas day, of singing Christmas carols, of baking cookies and cakes with my mother and grandmother, and all of that precious memories. I paused for a few minutes, looked at the ornaments one last time, and somehow my heart felt lighter, joyful and at peace. Tucked away in a box, these Christmas ornaments are waiting to be unwrapped next Christmas and displayed on the tree and/or on the table top.
Reflecting on the past holiday season, I was reminded that Christmas gives me hope again and again . . . Christmas and what it stands for. I know for sure that Jesus Christ wasn’t born in December (the gospel accounts confirm this), but the commemoration of His birth represents hope. Every year at Christmas time, God reminds us that He has given us hope through the Lord Jesus Christ. We all need hope in our lives . . . and we all need the assurance that in the midst of chaos, confusion, trials, difficulties, and all the problems we face at times, there is hope, there is a new lesson, and there is something else — waiting to be discovered.
In his famous Christmas tale, the Victorian writer, Charles Dickens, excellently summed up in one sentence the central theme of the story: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” It is our choice to keep the spirit of Christmas, to keep the hope, to keep our joy and wonder and mystery, all tucked away in a box as we go to bed at night, and waiting to be unwrapped the next morning. Let’s wake up each morning with hope and joy in our hearts, and go forth doing the work of Christ.