Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Magic of Christmas

A hundred candles flicker in our darkened church as we join to sing "Silent Night" in four-part harmony. Between the fire marshal and the church's insurance company, those magical moments have all but disappeared. But I can still recollect vintage Christmas magic. It takes me back to the smell of candle wax and the urge to pitch the burning taper from my hand once the wax ran down onto my fingers.

Back then, a lot of the Christmas magic was centered in Santa Claus, his eight reindeer (or nine in case of inclement weather), and his magical sleigh. Then I grew a little older and found the thrill, wonder and ecstasy of Christmas hiding beneath bright, shiny wrapping paper. Of course, there was the inevitable disappointment of finding clothes inside, but by high school age I didn't quite mind that as much. I figured maybe the new duds might even help me turn some special eyes when school started again.

In time I found the magic that kids experience left Christmas, especially when my older brothers moved out, got married, and spent some of the holidays with their in-laws, instead of us. Eventually, it was time for me to leave home too, and since dad left us for his eternal home earlier that year, it wasn't the same when I came home for Christmas. That empty spot never did leave.

But then God brought a special woman into my life, and we made a life together. Christmas came with new wonder all over again. Then our son came along, our own little baby through whose eyes we could relive the wonders anew.

Then the cycle repeated itself. The magic of Santa relived, the thrill of the presents and, finally, the disillusionment when he grew old enough to understand it for himself.

But there is one place the magic never really left. That was at church where the ancient carols from centuries ago, the gigantic Christmas trees, the roping, ribbons, lights, wreaths and candles are still in full swing. And then there are those fleeting moments during the reading of the Christmas story when I'm sitting on the Judean hillside, along with the shepherds, listening to the angel's message. And all this preceding the rush to go and find the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, resting in the manger.

Thinking ahead to future Christmases I know there will be highs and lows. There will be a first Christmas when our son brings his wife (Lord willing) and then later, their grandchildren. And, of course, as age marches on, and friends and family cross the Jordan, and when even my own body weakens and fails with age, I pray that Christmas will never lose its luster.

Never, that is, until twilight sets in, and it's my turn to cross over to where mom and dad are now. That's when the true "magic" of Christmas will finally become clear and unmistakable. I'll stand with Mary and Joseph, with the shepherds and wise men, listening to the song of the angels, gazing on the beauty of God's Son: that eternal Christmas in heaven.

Now there's the real magic of Christmas.

It's only three days away now. Have you considered what this most holy day means for you -- your family -- the world around you?

Share your thoughts by clicking here.

Merry Christmas!

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