He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” ~John 1:51
I’ve been thinking about Grandpa again. My grandpa really wanted to be in the Von Trapp family. You know- Sound of Music? Entire family sings, dances and performs? Needless to say, we fell lamentably short of the Von Trapp Family Singers, but that didn’t stop us from trying. One of grandpa’s Christmas traditions was to hold a family-talent-show. One year, I remember spending months trying to learn a song on the guitar. Mind you, I didn’t know how to play but I could learn. That Christmas I’m sure it was as painful for my listeners as it was for my fingers.
But then there came a year when my immediate family was going through some hard times. We didn’t really want to talk about those things at Christmas. We wanted to go, and be together, and laugh- to forget the ‘hard times’ for just a little bit. When we were in the car, en route to Grandpa’s, we realized we had not prepared for the annual (if informal) ‘Christmas Talent Show.’ I know what you’re thinking- no big deal. And it probably wasn’t. We knew that we had cousins who were gifted piano players and ballet dancers, an uncle who would read something very moving (and possibly in German- hooray for heritage), another uncle who could sing really well, and the littlest cousins were so darn cute, they couldn’t fail at anything they tried. And then there was us. We didn’t feel like we had any real talent to share at that point, but neither did we want to say so (call it German stubbornness). Which brought up the sarcastic comment, “Too bad no one here plays the bag pipes.” Well, one thing led to another, and when you have an hour long car ride, you can usually come up with something. And we did!
So that year, when Grandpa turned to our family and asked, do you have anything to share with us? We smiled really big, and said, “Yes! Human bagpipes!” Everyone looked a little confused, and then we began our performance. Basically we all made the loudest, most obnoxious sound we could think of. All at the same time, and all in different keys. While most of us continued with these odd noises, one of us would take the melody and loudly (and if it was a more nasal sound, all the better) hum and bellow the tune for Silent Night.* We didn’t even make it through the song, we were laughing so hard. We kept at it as long as we could, and everyone joined in the laughter. I think we impressed everyone in a different way that year. It wasn’t quite the piano solo of Carol of the Bells that one of my cousins did, but it was nice to have performed. Nice to escape the reality of our lives, and to have been a part of something.
But here is the great thing about Christmas. God does not ask us for a performance. He is not looking down on you, expecting you to be better, to be more than you are, to do something absolutely amazing that has never been done before. The heavy burdens we feel from striving in this world, are not from Him. He is not asking us to be perfect, nor is He pushing us away. Instead He is providing The Way. The way back to Him, the way back to where we belong, the way to peace, the way to love, and the way to simply be. He sent his son down to us, to be the way back to Him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.** And He came so that we could live life in abundance.*** We cannot earn God’s love, nor can we lose it.**** So let that knowledge sink into your hearts this Christmas season. Let the One who created you and loves you beyond measure fill your weary hearts. Because we have been given this free and amazing gift- this gift that gives us freedom and peace. He came weak and helpless as a baby into our world, so that we could find our way back to the One who created us. So that we could be filled and whole and new again. Christmas is magical because of the expectation that God has, and is, and will continue to do great things.
Thank you God, that you provided this way back. Thank you Jesus for giving yourself freely for all of our sins. Thank you Holy Spirit for filling our hearts. I pray that this Christmas season would not pass without our hearts being touched by You. That our hearts would soften and turn towards you. That we would not be consumed by things, or by what we do or do not do. Help us to lay down the idea that we must preform to earn your love. Help us instead to pick up the peace that your son brought into this world. And give us the love we need so that we could boldly tell others of who You are, and how You love them. In Jesus name, Amen!
*It’s really hard to explain without making the noises, I keep humming/bellowing while I’m typing trying to figure out how to better explain this atrocious musical performance?