By Bryan Marvel
A few years ago, while sitting on the living room floor full of wrapping paper and ripped open boxes, my wife and I were discussing how the morning had gone. Did the kids like their presents? Are there traditions we want to start next year that we weren't able to do this year? Did we do a good job recovering the true meaning of Christmas amidst our culture’s consumeristic frenzy?
As we lingered amongst the mess, we started to discuss the fleeting nature of Christmas morning. There’s so much anticipation and longing that builds through December. We can’t wait for Christmas and all that comes with it. As we wait, we recollect wonderful memories from years past and hope that this year will meet or maybe even surpass those memories.
But then, the morning’s here, and before you know it, it’s over and gone.
We also reflected on how Christmas morning has the potential to leave us feeling more empty than filled. With all of the anticipation, hype, and memories of years past, we naturally create some expectation in our mind of what the morning will be like. But often times, the morning can't carry the weight of our expectations.
Over time, when moments like Christmas morning don't fully meet the expectations we place on them, we can grow guarded and cynical about them and joy starts to wane. But I think the key to enjoying them is to appreciate them for what they are, pointers and signposts.
Pointers to what, you might ask?
The Kingdom of God.
The trouble with Christmas morning is that it quickly slips through our hands. It's temporary, yet it pricks our heart's longing for the eternal. It's filled with the stuff of earth when what our hearts truly want are the things of heaven.
Christmas is ultimately a pointer to the day when Jesus will come again and bring with Him a celebration that will never end where there will be better food and wine than we could ever imagine. Where nicely wrapped gifts under a tree pale in comparison to a world ruled by justice and righteousness. Where peace on earth becomes a reality for all humankind.
When we look for Christmas morning to bring us ultimate fulfillment, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. But if we see it as a signpost, it fuels our anticipation for the day when all things will be made right.
No matter what your celebration looks like, may you enjoy the day for what it is. May it fuel your hope that a better day is coming. And may it increase your longing for God's Kingdom and the joy that it brings.