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Unwrap the True Magic of Christmas

Originally published Monday, 24 December 2012.


According to Twitter, there’s snow in Virginia today. Well Merry Christmas to you, Virginia. Here in Texas, we’re expecting a high of seventy-five degrees. I guess the twangy song on the radio was right: “We don’t have white Christmases in Texas.” I’ve been here long enough to know this. But seventy-five? Really, Houston? Come on. I’d honestly hoped for something different.

Walking out of the Christmas eve service and seeing friends in shorts and flip-flops doesn’t make me feel all Christmas-like. Now I’ll be forced to fake it. I’ll wear a sweater and crank the AC, light the fire and drink hot cocoa and close all the heat and humidity behind the living room curtains. I’ll watch snowy movies on TV.

The weather is never different just because it’s Christmas, and neither are my feelings. Over the years I’ve thought to myself, “this Christmas should feel more exciting, because I know Christ more this year than any year before.” I think maybe my works will drum up a little bit more festivity come December twenty-fifth. But then on Christmas Eve, I leave the service feeling the same as I do every year and my closer-to-Jesus yearnings on Christmas day are a bust.

I don’t know what precise experience I am looking for. It’s a little like expecting to wake up on your thirtieth birthday feeling like a different person than the day before, when you were twenty-nine. I don’t magically change at midnight. I still find excitement in the day, my family, and the stuff under the tree. But I am still me, experiencing Christmas in the only way I know how.

Luz Adriana Villa A. / Foter / CC BY

I need to stop looking under the tree for the gift that doesn’t exist. There is no supreme Christmas experience that will make me feel closer to Jesus. I don’t need to wait to feeldifferent, I am different. I’ve already opened the gift that brings newness, divine revelation, and radical differentness. I’ve received the good news of the gospel. My blind eyes have been opened and I hold the gift of the Holy Spirit. Even the most picturesque Instagram shot with falling snow and warm cuddle-blankets can’t top the picture salvation paints.

Tonight I will join the body of Christ and stand together singing songs of celebration. I will welcome Christ to the world and thank God for fulfilling his promises. I’ll raise a lit candle and sing warm songs of praise and go out into the muggy Houston night with anticipation and joy. And in the morning, I’ll wake up to a day that feels strangely similar to the day before.

It doesn’t matter if it feels the same as Christmas Eve. Because it isn’t. It isn’t the same at all. It’s a new day. Christmas isn’t about feelings. It’s about truth. And the truth is, Jesus came to crush death under foot, changing everything. No touchy-feely-Christmasy experience can top the reality of real change birthed that night in Bethlehem. The change I look to and celebrate is the Light that would conquer darkness. This Christmas, unwrap the truth.

Everything is different.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:14-16