First One Up
December 25, 2009 § 2 Comments
I can’t remember a Christmas morning when someone in the family woke up before me. Even now, as I type, I am downstairs, with Christmas tree lights aglow and Home Alone on the television while Katherine and the girls remain upstairs in the bedrooms. Growing up, the rule in our home was that we could leave our rooms at 5 AM and go through our stockings. It wasn’t until six that we were allowed to awaken our parents, which we would do, and not a second later, to get to the presents.
We were fortunate to live in a home with a lot of love, and that meant that Christmas morning was never a disappointment. It wasn’t only the gifts. It was the breakfast, crumpling torn wrapping paper and stuffing it in a single bag, stacking the boxes at the end of the driveway for next-day pick-up, listening to Christmas music, eating candy, trying out the new toys, and then welcoming 100 people into our home for a feast. To this day, one of my all-time favorite presents remains my official NFL ‘Duke’ football. Christmas was always special – and I was always the first one up, and still am.
Let me switch gears here, and then bring it all home… Invariably, each Christmas someone, somewhere sings the words, ‘Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, Beside me forever, and love me, I pray…’
More than anything else Christmas is the celebration of a God who came – in the flesh (this is the meaning of the term, ‘Incarnation’ – for those of us who have lived in areas with strong a Latin American presence, we know that ‘carne’ means ‘meat’ in Spanish) – Jesus came ‘in the meat’ – He took on all the ‘stuff’ of humanity to become one of us, refusing to be a far-away God with no concern for His broken creation.
In Romans 13:11 Paul writes, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Here is the thing – When Jesus came, salvation came – and every time we flee to Him, for the first time or the many times after that throughout our Christian lives, it all ‘comes near’ afresh – and it is as though we have once again awakened to everything the Faith offers to those of us who remain often rebellious, yet forgiven, imperfect, yet accepted, even unfinished, yet loved.
I have to go – Katherine just came downstairs.
But I was first one up…