A few weeks ago we took Jakson, our 3 year old grandson to the mall to see someone special. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the holly and twinkling lights decked the halls and every store in the place was alive with shoppers, clerks and a red and green sale signs. We got there a little early so Jakson and I went to our favorite place, the little kids playground, while Doris went to hers, JC Penney. Jakson climbed over the big plastic raccoon, jumped off the gingerbread house and slid down the train slide with a dozen other boys and girls while me and the rest of the young moms looked on. At 11:45 Doris came back from shopping and we gathered Jakson, found his shoes in the pile of others kids’ shoes, doused his hands with the complimentary Purrell and then headed for the middle of the food court in the Stones River Mall. We were first in line in front of the huge Christmas tree and the little picket fence that surrounded a big red, overstuffed chair. There was a camera set up in front of it and two young ladies dressed like elves gave us a number and a handout about the cost of portraits. In just a minute the line behind us stretched down the side of the food court and out past the pretzel place. The kids were giddy with anticipation, the parents ranged from sleepy to mildly engaged, except for one PoppyC at the front of the line that kept singing Jingle Bells at the top of his voice.
All of a sudden the door from a hallway inside the mall burst open and out he came, red suit with white furry trim, black boots, famous flowing white beard and a huge Ho-Ho-Ho. And Jakson, well Jakson looked like this.
He was absolutely mesmerized, spellbound, totally captivated by and caught up in the moment. It was just a 3 year old boy and Santa Clause at that moment and nothing else mattered in the whole world.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why do we feel compelled to fancy this thing up? We try to outdo ourselves each year with extravaganzas and Christmas spectaculars. We do huge stage plays and have complicated gift exchanges. Listen folks, we are talking about God coming to earth as a human baby, how much more spectacular than that can we get. And how much more simple.
Luke 2:8-12 says, “8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” That’s pretty much it. That’s the whole kit and kibutle. It is just a baby, and some clothes wrapped around Him, and a manger. And oh, by the way, it is the Savior of the world.
The Holy, Healthy Christmas sees the whole thing as simple and as childlike as that. We don’t get distracted by the tinsel and the trees, by fat guys in red suits or Aunt Sally trying to make sure her kids get the best stuff at the Secret Santa game. All of that stuff is fun and important and we want to participate in it. But we also keep it very simple and we stand like the shepherds in front of the manger, like Jakson seeing Santa Clause, in pure awe and delight at the baby Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.
Away in a manger no crib for His bed.
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.