Contained in the text below is an edited version of a devotional written last year for an Advent booklet published by our church.
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:10-12 (NIV)
‘Tis the season to be busy…
There are gifts to gather, cards to create, trees to trim, food to fix, and family and friends to fuss over.
More than once, when asked what part of the season I like most, I have often replied “When it’s over”. I don’t believe I am alone with that sentiment. The holiday season can be overwhelming. For that reason, I have always savored that part of the Christmas season which begins with the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve and continues on to the first day of the New Year.
Immediately upon taking my seat in our church for the Candlelight Service, calm prevails. I am now able to cast aside the hustle and stress of the previous weeks and days, and replace that with thoughts of the simple blessings of friends and family, and the blessing of God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus Christ. In the solemn serenity of our sanctuary, softened by candlelight, and our choir singing carols, the gifts stuffed in stockings are now replaced in my mind by the gift of God’s love and the peace through Christ that God gave to us.
In Matthew 2:12 we are told the following about the Wise Men…”They returned to their country by another route.” The Wise Men had followed a star to Bethlehem. They had seen Mary and the Baby Jesus, but, having been warned in a dream about Herod, they took a different road back home.
In the winter quiet that follows Christmas, I have the time to reflect on the road I’m following in my personal journey of faith and ask the question, “Do I need to take a different road”? I just prepared with great vigor to celebrate the season of this thing that has happened (Luke 2:15). Now, with the gifts exchanged, and the tree put away, there is time to examine how I will make that journey for the coming year with Christ at my side and His Word to guide me. Will I make that examination with the same vigor given to celebrate the season?
Through the clamor that can accompany the Christmas season we see many displays of the love taught to us by Christ. We have witnessed gifts to charities and a helping hand extended to the sick, the needy, and to our brave wounded veterans. Is that the road I follow and lend my hand to those truly worthy endeavors? Or, do I follow a road of a renewed commitment to prayer and to the study of His Word in the Bible? Do I reach out to our church for a new direction in faith through fellowship? Now that I am retired, there is many a path before me.
In the calm hush that follows the Christmas rush, I am always reassured that God listens to us. Even in this busy season when we seek peace, we know that God gives us peace through Jesus Christ if we follow him. I now ask God which route I should take as I prepare for a New Year, and I remain confident that he will listen and send me down the right road. The road a Wise Man would surely follow…