Luke 2:7 “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
When I was a young kid, my parents came back from a trip to Israel bearing gifts and souvenirs: one of these being a hand carved olive tree nativity set. You may have seen one of these sets before in a store or have owned one yourself, but there is the usual crew of characters represented by the carved wooden figurines. Wise men with their gifts, a shepherd or two with some sheep, a few stable animals, and of course, Mary and Joseph looking over baby Jesus who is Himself a detachable piece of wood. What little kid wouldn’t be fascinated with this “toy set” of wooden goodness. Being five years behind my brother and both very young kids, I became the number one suspect when baby Jesus came up missing one year! At least he swears to this day that I had to be the one who took the Christ Child from the set, so I’ll go ahead and own up to it. What can I say, my G.I.JOES needed Jesus!
So Christmas is a big deal around the Crowder house. I mean a BIG deal! All our traditions and decorations, the carols and holiday movies playing. My wife, Missy is the one who really makes the season what it is for all of us! She’s the kind of gal who starts the countdown to Christmas on the day after Christmas. She hides it well, but I know that carols are secretly being played in her car from early summer on until I fully embrace them after the Thanksgiving food is consumed. This year I let the firm stance slide a bit due to my brother’s Christmas album being released in late October. What’s a guy to do? Yup, support the brother and make the wife happy in the process!
But with all the festivities of the holiday season, have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose sight of why we are celebrating? The rush of the shopping and food prep. The numerous holiday parties with all the lights and sounds and people to see, it’s so easy to lose sight of Baby Jesus! In one of the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in the city of Colossi, he made a statement that can easily be applied to our lives during this season…
Colossians 2:17 “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ,”
When we lose our focus on the very reason the Christmas holiday exists, it’s like the shadow becomes more important than the true substance. Paul is saying in that passage that the festivals and food are good, but they are not the source of joy and contentment! They are “shadows” of that which truly fulfills…and SO many people are chasing the shadows this month. Did you ever do that as a kid? Try to chase and catch your shadow or that of a friend? That shadow wasn’t the real you, was it? It’s kind of funny to think that your shadow exists because light that has traveled ninety-three million miles unobstructed, was deprived of reaching the last few feet thanks to you! Yeah, that’s funny isn’t it? But the shadow isn’t you, it’s just an image being cast of the greater substance which is you.
Paul is saying to be careful not to let your heart run toward these external things because they are only shadows. Jesus is the substance! The parties, the decorations, the presents, the lights and sounds are only the shadows of what truly matters in this season. The gift of Jesus! So, let’s work in these next few days to focus once again on the central character of the nativity. And yes, baby Jesus was eventually found in my toy box and reunited with His family and friends.
To each of you, I wish you and your loved ones the merriest of Christmases and a beautiful New Year with all the adventures that await!