by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2016
The light from the Christmas tree is waning. This is not because the ability of the little colored bulbs to illuminate is fading but because a season is coming to an end. The season of Christmas in the part of the world where we live coincides with the time of year when light is least and darkness seemingly ever-increasing. More than a day when we give each other gifts or a week when we endeavor to spread kindness, Christmas is a season of remembering, contemplating, reflecting to grasp the deeper, temporal significance and eternal meaning, of quieting ourselves within during days which are darker and generally colder inviting us to be more inside than out. Personally it is also a time when I seek to take time off from jobs other preoccupations and simply look inward. Still before Him, He continues to reveal ever more layers of beauty—the beauty He is and the magnificence of His way.
For years, I have fought the end to this always-too-brief time of year. I want to continue to be at rest in Him, before Him and with Him, contemplating the solemnity of Christmas in abject awe—this commemoration which must be accompanied by grand celebration. I want to remain in the stillness with heart soaring upward in song and reverence, considering how it must have been for those who were there and what it means and how it is for those of us now. Christ-mas. Celebration of Christ. Feast of Christ (the meaning of the word ending “mas” in the English word Christmas).
However, even as we return more to the activity of our every-day which fills the rest of our year and the festival abates yet again for a while, we continue to carry Christmas forward in our hearts. Jesus was born. The angels declared it, the star announced it, the shepherds believed in the angels and their message and came to adore the Baby (who in that moment looked very un-kingly and showed no sign of any ability or authority to do anything for them). The men from the East came far at likely large personal expense to pay homage in faith.
Then they all went home. To their ordinary, everyday lives. It would be decades before the King of kings would reveal the Kingdom which He had brought with Him for all of us. They may have completed their lives here before there was any additional related news. Joseph and Mary of necessity became caught up in the everyday activity of raising the Son and obeying the Lord to protect and provide for Him, even not long thereafter fleeing into exile because to stay in their homeland was no longer safe for Him. Joseph and Mary did what was necessary day in and day out to provide a home for their family and to make sure there was shelter, food and clothing. It was work. It could have been considered monotonous. It was normal. It was blessed. They went back to the work of living in this world where there will always be work which must be done in order to survive and thrive. It is normal for us. It remains blessed.
The shepherds, wise men and Holy Family carried the hope of Christmas in their hearts. The Savior had been born. God would fulfill His promises.
That said, even the shepherds and wise men probably misunderstood God’s message. For generations they had prayed for the redemption of Israel. They sought to be a free self-governing people again—a nation under God. Even the prophets had declared what they understood was the promise the Lord would answer this prayer and restore the nation.
However, what the Lord God brought was so much more. Beyond their ability to recognize and understand, He was indeed that hope. However, instead of bringing temporary, faulty independent governments, He ushered in His government where we are to live by His Way (not because of laws but because of love, comprehension of Him and devotion to Him) and where death has been conquered.
The image of the grim reaper remains true. Life here continues to be temporary with no assurance of what our last day in this worldly existence for each of us will be. But death is no longer the end, but a door into the eternal existence with the Lord God for which He created us.
This is the reason He was and is our hope. We cannot change the nature of our current existence in terms of its temporal nature and the hardship, injustice and eventual death which are part of it. We can choose to let Him use us to have a good God-effect in the way He wants, when He wants on those around us. We can be a positive influence, a lamp shining His light of hope and an instrument of His love improving the circumstances during the time we are here, even while we keep in mind that this world and how it runs will not be permanently fixed by us. Here is not our destination. Here is merely where we are for such a time as this.
Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and wise men all had their time here—their season where they could choose to believe and follow Him to have His effect, to fulfill His God-purposes for them or not. Now it is our turn. Like each of them, we do not know how much time we will have.
Oh, the joy and never-ending celebration of heaven await! Yet, we do not want our time here to have been for naught.
We re-enter the season of ordinary everyday as we move past the season of Christmas for another 11 months. We carry Christmas in our hearts. God-willing our understanding of Him and relationship with Him is deeper than it was before we entered this special season just a few short weeks ago.
It is in the ordinary, everyday where Jesus did His best work. It is where He desires to use us. He was the King of kings, born into virtual obscurity except for the few to whom the Father chose to reveal Him. He lived and walked and was known for such a short period of time by such a few people relative to the world population and yet, the power of His life!
Our lives will never match that of Jesus. That is neither the purpose nor the goal. Obedience is the goal. God made manifest in this world is the purpose so that more may find their way home for eternity. He loves each personal equally and desires each one to have the opportunity to know Him, choose Him and be built up by Him for His use for such a time as this and to be with Him in that place for which He created us forever. He wants to use you—where you are at this moment, in what may seem the monotony of your every-day as well as in those places in your life which are as yet still to come.
Do not lose sight of the Savior who lived in the everyday of His time just as you do. Continue to follow the Shepherd and you will be amazed as He reaches through you to touch the world. Receive His peace for He is with you and His purposes are greater than what the majority see or recognize. Live in His joy that in this life you will have many troubles, but the promise of the Faithful One whose initial coming we celebrate on Christmas day has also promised, “I have overcome the world.”
Be of strong and cheerful heart as we move into this New Year for by the presence and activity of His most Holy Spirit, at all times through all circumstances until we each are home with Him forever, Jesus remains Emmanuel, which means “God With Us”
Blessed 9th Day of Christmas and Happy New Year!
NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOMGod’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For more information on books, worship albums, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.elizabethfulgaro.com . Music can be purchased and audio clips heard at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth also posts brief devotions and prayers on Facebook on her page: Spiritual Armor and Ammo where you will find more posts of God’s truth and His way to help you stand strong against the battles of this life in which we all find ourselves.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org