It’s the week of, and all roads lead to Christmas.
Folks gather in churches for special programs of choirs singing, musicians playing as they musically tell of the good news. The old familiar carols play and some that are brand new but equally eloquent and beautiful.
Teachers are glad the semester is over and are breathing easier. Kids are sleeping in and planning on movie and video game marathons.
Presents have already been exchanged with good friends. Families have gathered to share celebrations, and plans are being made for more while houses are freshened and food is purchased for more guests.
Parents and children are packing suitcases for the long trip to grandmother’s house. And in another place grandparents are loading up the SUV with gifts galore, wanting to be on the road in anticipation of seeing those smiles and giving those hugs and hearing those words “we’re so glad you’re here.”
Last minute shopping will make the highways crowded, the malls even more so. Shopkeepers will work long hours and their feet will hurt at the end of the day. Patience will be at a premium for everyone.
The Christmas train is moving at top speed. You’ve got to get in, get out, or get run over.
Thousands of years ago, a couple were making their way to Bethlehem. Just a few more days and they would be there. She is round and heavy with child, weary from this long journey. He is hoping to find some comforting place for his wife about to deliver. A clean bed and some fresh water would be nice. A warm meal and a “welcome, come in and stay with us” would be priceless.
Their first Christmas was not a piece of cake. There weren’t any song fests or presents to wrap or relatives waiting for their arrival. No family gatherings planned and the table set with the choicest fare. There were probably crowds of people and yes, patience was at a premium then also.
The glory of their Christmas was holding back, restrained until the right moment when the fullness of time would come. There were still miles to go, hardships to face, questions that would bewilder them.
But the glory was there nonetheless.
Far away, there was an ancient couple, Zachariah and Elizabeth, rocking a sleeping baby and wondering at this miracle. There were angels waiting for final instruction in fervent expectancy. There was a brilliant star forming in the sky. There were wise men pouring over scrolls trying to uncover the mystery. There were the faithful believers still waiting and looking for the consolation of Israel, the long-awaited promise of God.
The glory is all around us. Sometimes it is hidden. But it is there.
Look for the glory. Look for the beauty of God in the faces of people. Look for His creative process in changed lives. Look for God’s love in kindness and generosity. Look for His amazing grace in yourself.
The glory shone all around. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.