By, Rev. Howard C. Earle, Jr., D.Min.
In case you didn’t know, I am a Christmas junkie. I embrace all things Christmas, the lights, music, food, etc. I’m all about decking the halls and ringing the silver bells. Merry Christmas baby! I recently hosted a holiday party in my home. It was stressful trying to cover all the details to ensure that everyone would have a great evening. I agonized over the right menu, who to invite, the number of people, etc. I even reached out to a friend to ask about the right kind of paper products to purchase. Should I go with clear plastic or Christmas prints? I went to at least four different stores to get ideas on accents and decorative pieces before I made my purchases. I splurged on a large center piece for my table. I wondered if it would be too large, but I wanted something that would make a statement and have presence in my large dining area. It was perfect!
I’m pleased to report that my party was a success! Everyone made sure to thank me for hosting such a wonderful time. They appreciated the attention I paid to the details that ensured a comfortable, pleasant evening. Not only did everyone leave with full stomachs, but they also left with lasting memories from the experience.
Reflecting on my party has me thinking about the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Advent is a season of remembering and celebrating the arrival of Jesus on Earth. Just as I paid attention to the finest of details, so God paid attention to every detail surrounding his grand arrival to earth. Every year my appreciation for Christmas grows as I take the time to notice the sites and scenes of how God came down to save us. Paul writes in Galatians 4, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…” Not only did God pay attention to the right time, but he also paid attention to the right people. We’ve glamorized and commercialized the Gospel nativity but God is strategic with the placement of every person. Shepherds watching over their flocks, a young virgin betrothed to a young carpenter who’s a descendant of David, and wise men or astrologers from Babylon are amongst the fine details in the greatest story every told.
I’d like to argue that the success of my party was in the details. I can with confidence say that the beauty of Christmas is found in the details mentioned above. The greatest event in the history of the world would not be broadcasted and introduced from the top of the socio-economic ladder down, but rather from the bottom up and outside in. The prophet Isaiah had spoken centuries prior that God would be WITH us and on that night in Bethlehem, He made good on that promise. God unfolds the story with us, common, lowly, highly flawed people, in mind. The Shepherds’ and wise men’s presence remind us that Christmas is for everybody. In Mary and Joseph, we see that God can use anybody at any time. Advent becomes our invitation to see how important we are to God. God pulled out all the stops, spared no expense, extended the greatest invitation which still stands today, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).