This year I received a classic “Brownie Holiday Camera.” Clearly the intentions many years ago were to make lasting memories with it, or at least to market it that way.
Taking pictures means making memories for many of us. What do we photograph? Often it is the people we love! We want to remember the big events and the tiny ones with the people we cherish.
Photos are an effort to hold on to the precious moments. A picture of children frosting and then eating their Christmas cookies would be the highlight of the family photo reel, not photos of the shopping list and the dry ingredients on the counter. We don’t typically snap photos of the details along the way, unless we are making a bit of a documentary. If we have a story to tell, we might actually want all of the details recorded.
In the Gospels, the details are there, and the focus is clear. Discussing the events of Luke 2 with a child, I realized that we can quickly forget the focus. What if I retold the events this way?
* there were shepherds outside at night
* they went to Bethlehem
* they went back to the field
Have I retold events? Yes, those things are accurate. Have I truly shared the point of what Luke recorded? No. I wouldn’t dream of retelling Luke 2 that way. The truth is much deeper.
Sadly, I can remove the beautiful key details of Christmas and focus on other ones. I might not do that deliberately, but I know I’ve done it. Here’s a possible checklist:
- tree decorated, with the lights just right
- the “perfect” presents need to be bought at the store (or delivered right to the door)
- a happy family gathering must take place
- good food must be baked, cooked, and complimented
Are these the events of Christmas? Yes, for many of us. Have I honestly retold the point of Christmas? Not at all. I shouldn’t dream of living Christmas that way.
Decorations, good gifts, quality family time, and delicious food are wonderful. They are not the point of Christmas.
So as we spend time together with those we love this Christmas, and the people we find hard to love, let’s remember and tell of the One who deserves to be glorified. The message is for all people. Christ is born!
The message of the birth of Jesus, God’s Son, was announced to shepherds. The good news was (and is) for all people. The heavenly host proclaimed glory to God. After the shepherds heard it, they were amazed and hurried off to see this thing that they were told. They did see Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem and told everyone the news that had been told them about the child. When they went back to the field they praised and glorified God for what they had heard and seen.
Is it possible to photograph that? I can retell it, as Luke did so long ago, so that others will remember, too. Christ Jesus came because all of us were in need of a Savior. Holy God has invited us into His family.
“Why?” I heard a child ask this year. I also heard a child answer, “Because He loves us.”
May that truth be what we remember and be our focus all year.
Thank you for being the Gift of Christmas. Let every part of my story point to You. Please don’t let me focus on details that are insignificant. Be glorified in us. In Your Holy Name, Amen.
What do we capture now to remember later?
Is it worth it? Why?
How will you share the real Christmas story this season? How can you share it all year?
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:8-20 ESV)