Monday, December 2, 2013

It's a Boy!


I was looking for Christmas cards the other day and came across one that was all blue. (I'm not a fan of blue cards.) But this one . . . it caught my eye. Stenciled across its face were three short words.  Just three.
 "It's a BOY!"
 Because apparently sometimes we need reminding that Christmas is about Christ's birth. And sometimes over Christmas, we Christians can be the biggest non-celebrators (those who don't celebrate) of the real holiday that there are. Of course we go out and buy presents, we deck the halls, we stuff a turkey, we even buy an Angel Tree gift for the needy children in our church, but where's the birthday cake?
In our house, on someone's birthday, we pull out all the stops.  I mean, really.  We go crazy.  We do, say, and cook ALL the birthday person's favorite things. You want to eat a pound of bacon for your birthday?  Sounds great.  You want to have a medieval knight birthday party complete with handmade wooden shields?  Got it.  I live for those days.  I’m GREAT at those days.  Tell me what gets your heart pumping, and I will do my darndest to make it happen on your birthday.
But I have to ask.
Where are all of Jesus' favorite things?
I wonder if he would have preferred to hear our beautiful choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the Wal-Mart Parking lot while we handed out cups of hot cocoa and gift cards instead of inside our tired sanctuary with raspberry jam colored carpet where everyone is sparkling like disco balls and the lost tend not to come.
 I wonder if he would have preferred less fancy Christmas clothing and more donated coats to homeless people.
I wonder if he would rather have a simple meal shared with many hungry people as opposed to pate and caviar on artisan bread toasted golden.
I wonder if I can help my boys to celebrate Jesus' birthday this year . . . by doing all the things HE loves.
In fact, if you want to know the truth, I think my boys might need to help ME to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  Maybe I am the obstacle that stands between commercial Christmas and Jesus’ Birthday.
Just the other day, I went to the boys and asked the annual question. 
To the youngest, I asked, “Corty, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
Without hesitation, he replied, “Seventy-five dollars.”
I know a smile snagged my lips and swung them upward.  “What would you like seventy-five dollars for?”
“A goat.”  Now, if you know my youngest, you know that he would like NOTHING better than to have another animal.  A goat.  A pig.  A chicken.  Any animal is pure delight to him.  So, I’m thinking in my head, “No way.”  But I say, “Where would we put a goat, Corty?”
“Not for me, mom,” he responds instantly.  “I want a goat for the children in Africa.  I saw how much they are in a magazine I was reading.”
And you know those moments when some invisible being sticks a vacuum cleaner down your throat and sucks all your breath out and you are left without speech?  Yeah.  That happened.  Because that wasn’t solicited or prompted.  That.  That?  That was Jesus’ heart pouring out of my sweet boy with unruly hair and freckles sprouting on his milky cheeks.
Later, I asked my eldest the same question.
He replied, “A goat.”
My knees are weak because if you know my eldest, you know he’s got ZERO interest in owning a goat. 
“Did you hear your brother and I talking?” I’m naturally a suspicious person.
“No, mom.  I just don’t need anything this year.  I’d rather help other people.  Please don’t make me come up with a list.”
And I’m looking into amber eyes that sparkle because tears threaten to break free, and I know he’s dead serious.  And I know it was my boys’ lips that were moving, but it was Jesus who was bringing me Christmas tidings of TRUE JOY through them.
Somewhere along the way these two boys with shoulders getting broad and upper lips getting fuzzy have figured out that Christmas is more than an opportunity to get.
Somewhere along the way they have understood that their heart is an inn and they’ve made room for the heart of Jesus to be birthed in them.
And most of us Christian adults are still sending him out back to the stable.  After all, we’ve got Christmas dinner to cook, presents to wrap and cards to send out.  So, if he can wait ‘til after the new year, then we’ll have room and time.  Right?
And isn’t that a little ironic?  I mean how can we sing Joy to the World  and push the very God who brings joy aside until a later time?  If we wish people joy and peace, shouldn’t we invite the very guest who created those blessed states of being?
For unto us a Child is born,
(Is. 9:6)
The child was born unto us.  Right?
So His birthday is our responsibility, right?
So, tonight, I find myself sitting here asking Him this question:
“Jesus, what would you like for your birthday?”
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you.  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
It’s as though I hear Him saying,
for my birthday, I want
To feed the hungry.

To give the thirsty a drink.

To give the naked clothing.

To care for sick people.

To visit prisoners.
So, I start making my list.  I can do this, God.  I’ll give you a birthday bash even the angels will envy.  I’m on it!

And YOU. 


YOU too.  I want you.
I hear the phrases from scripture, “Be still and know that I am God . . . Mary has chosen the more excellent thing . . .Seek ye first the Kingdom of God . . .”


Everyone and their brother gets of piece of me on a regular basis.  And it hits me, what if WE are the birthday cake?  In our home the birthday boy gets the first and biggest slice of cake, but Jesus is lucky if he gets the crumbs of me.  I’ve got two boys, a husband, a huge family, a massive church family, a job, and well . . . me?
It stops me, you know?
Because life is a hungry beast and the urgent things get my time, my attention, my focus, my commitment.

Could I commit to one month of stillness before God?  Could I give Him that gift?  The gift of me?  Instead of 12 Days of Christmas, could I give Jesus 25 Days of Stillness?

Stillness despite the calendar/day planner that resembles some kind of gumbo made with a year’s leftovers?  Stillness despite basketball season?  Stillness despite all the other Christmas traditions?

But how can I truly know the heart of God if I fail to sit with Him a while?  Who am I kidding?

So today begins the

25 Days of Stillness
And an invitation to my children and husband and perhaps you too? to embark on a new Christmas tradition.  Spend 25 days in stillness and take the final 12 to offer Jesus additional gifts.  Gifts He’s shared with us while we were still.  I don’t know yet what they will be, but I have a feeling they will not look like the Black Friday Multi-Tool Home Depot had on sale or the Rubbermaid Tupperware set from Wal-Mart for $7.  I’m guessing they’ll reflect His heart.

25 Days of Stillness

12 Gifts for Jesus
Come celebrate the birthday of the year with us, will you?
After all, It's a Boy!
Shouldn't that be the message we shout from the tops of our Christmas Trees this year?


Jackie Coyne said...

Thank you for this great reminder and awesome challenge! Please do a follow-up on this post :) Love you, dear friend.

Marti Chips said...

Thank you!!! What a great goal and re-focus of the heart and mind!!!

Melanie Z. said...

I just love every single thing about this post, Sarah. Thank you for sharing with us. Oh...and I love you, too!!