The Heart of Christmas

by Matthew West

Read Luke 2:1

Picture this: Three brothers, ages five, ten, and twelve  have awakened long before the sun. It's the wee hours of Christmas morning and these three brothers have no intention of sleeping in or spending a lazy morning laying around. No, they are on a mission.  In the basement, there awaits a Christmas tree surrounded by mountains of gifts wrapped and waiting to be torn into, and these boys are ready to claim their share of the take.  So, they devise a plan to help speed up the process of waking mom and dad from their slumber so the festivities can begin. The boys roll up their sleeves and proceed to cook up some very mediocre omelettes using questionable culinary techniques and even more questionable cleanliness, and presto, breakfast in bed for the parents. Mom and dad are polite as they try to avoid the shell-laced eggs, but they barely get one bite down before being pushed out of bed and downstairs.  Once mom and dad are seated in their usual spots, the boys make a b-line towards the tree. Gifts begin flying through the air, ornaments are shaking  loose from the tree from the flurry of activity.  The house becomes a MAD house!

And then it all comes to a sudden stop.

"Boys, aren't we forgetting something?" Dad says, as he holds up his Bible. Who wants to read? A collective groan fills the family room as all three boys realize that the gifts will have to wait. 
Dad always insisted we stop and read from the book of Luke about the birth of Jesus.  At the time, I remember thinking, 'This is just some cruel form of punishment.'  As if Dad delighted in watching us squirm in anticipation.  But looking back, I see things much differently than that twelve year old kid and his two brothers did.  I get it, what my dad was trying to do.  In the midst of all the chaos that has become the holiday season, he was gently bringing us back to the true heart of Christmas.  A star. A manger. A savior sent from Heaven to heal a broken world. The gift of all gifts.
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11.)

And so, as this Christmas draws near and the chaos comes to a frenzy, I look forward to driving my own kids crazy the way my dad did to me. We will stop, and we will read about the greatest gift of all, Jesus. And this Christmas I have a prayer for both  my family and yours. Whether it is a solemn moment at a Christmas Eve candlelight service, a chance to volunteer at a homeless shelter, a phone call from a loved one, or a reading from the Bible with your family gathered around the tree, I pray that you will find the heart of Christmas. Capture the essence of what truly makes this season worth celebrating.  Cherish every moment with your family, your loved ones.  Keep the memory of our savior's birth front and center in your heart and mind, whatever it takes.  It is there you will find the Heart of Christmas. "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."(Luke 2:12)