When Christmas Becomes Real

Since Christy began working full-time at SMU last October, some of our family roles have changed. I cook dinner more often, and I am the everyday chauffeur for our boys (James, 4th grade; Miles, 1st grade; Linus, pre-K).  As I drive Linus to and from school recently, it's been a joy to hear him singing Christmas carols in the car. Cruising up the Tollway yesterday, I hear this from behind me: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh." Then the magic happens: improvisation.

He infuses the classic song with words his brothers have brought home from their school: "Now I'm going to sing Batman and Robin. "Jingle bells, jingle bells... Wait." Again: "Jingle bells, jingle bells... Wait." A third time: "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile lost a wheel, and Joker got away. Hay!" 

What Batman has to do with "dashing through the snow" I do not know, but if you've been to worship on a cool Sunday or been around the church on a rainy day recently you may have seen our four year old trotting about in his Batman raincoat and matching rubber boots, a Christmas gift from his grandmother last year. Maybe that's the mystery- combine the joy of the season (singing carols) with great memories and prized possessions (coat and boots) and one sees the pieces fall together.   Christmas is a time of infinite mystery and infinite joy. We ponder the whole idea of God coming into our world as one of us, even in the form of a vulnerable infant. We sing in our hearts "O Come, O Come Emmanuel...," remembering that Emmanuel means "God is with us!" Even in the form of a child. God has given us every good gift: life, health, peace, a heart to serve. As much as God has blessed us, this Christmas we embrace the greatest gift- just as we do every year.

In a setting that had nothing to do with Christmas or the mystery of Incarnation, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Some of us have experienced more Christmases than we'd like to admit. Some of us were fortunate enough to spend them surrounded by loved ones. Some of us will be able to share Christmas joy in worship at Oak Lawn this year (Christmas Eve: 3:00, 5:00, 11:00; Christmas Day: 11:00 a.m.). Wherever we celebrate, let's do it with the joy and spirit of children. Because that's who we are. Children of a loving God, who bestows upon each of us grace and love.  Christmas has become more real for Linus this year- and through his expectation, it's become more real for me too. May we all embrace this Christmas with the faith of children! 

(The Batman jacket and boots are a bonus!)