It’s just after midnight on Christmas eve, and I’ve just gotten home from a Christmas party and the traditional Christmas eve Service. This Advent season has been somewhat of a "trying" time for me as I begin to further detest the rapid secularization of our culture; the struggle to determine what Christmas means for a single person living over 1400kms from family and friends; and finding the time to be fed spiritually as I try to poor out more and more of myself.
Tonight I broke a tradition that I’ve personally held since I began going to church and went to the early service on Christmas eve. It was great to be able to worship and celebrate the birthday of Jesus with those who have become ‘family’ and also to see a church building full. During the service, I experienced a "Charlie Brown" moment. Someone got up to read the Gospel (Luke 2) and as she read it, the voice of Linus popped into my head, quickly followed by the choir from A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think for many of us in ministry, or maybe just me, there is a struggle to stay excited about what’s going on — in many ways Christmas is part of our Christian celebrations as we remember God coming to us. For me this struggle exists because for the past few weeks, I’ve simply been saying "yeah, okay…it’s Christmas again, this is good" but my heart definitely has not been in it.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was able to do something that likely would not appear on TV today. As the kids were preparing for the Christmas pageant, rehearsing lines and trying to find the perfect tree, Linus steps up and was a "voice in the wilderness" for Charlie Brown — reminding him that this really is about God. God coming to a world in darkness, to bring us light, hope and ultimately Salvation. I often have moments where God has given me a "slap up-side the head" and tonight was one of them.
Regardless of where one is geographically, God is still present. Technology means that people are just a phone call, an email or an instant message away and while that cannot replace the physical contact it does connect us to those whom we are separated from. God, however, is with wherever we are; we just need to recognize His presence.
If you’re like Charlie Brown, trying to find the real meaning of Christmas, take a moment and hear those wonderful words that Linus so boldly shared with us — "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)