Olivia Dear Thames
Advent: December 16
I’ve always been enthralled with the beauty of Christmas. The Christmas Eve tablescape, the silver, the tinsel, the garland adorning the mantel, the gifts wrapped seamlessly under the tree (though mine are anything but seamless) . . . If I’m honest, though, I spend a lot more time focusing on these things each Christmas than I spend focusing on the beauty of Christ.
I spend more time looking for ribbon than I spend reflecting on how faithful God has been that year. I spend more energy fluffing my tree than I spend preparing my heart during Advent. I spend more time looking for the perfect roll of wrapping paper than I do seeking Christ and experiencing the joy He brings.
And while I’ve been materialistic since the day I was born, I know that I’m probably not alone here. Our culture can be so consumed with things, so link-clicking and adding-to-cart that we miss it. We miss the greatest gift ever offered to us in a season that is supposedly all about His birth—a birth that was anything but materialistic.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
This gift from God arrived not clad in silk ribbon or red bows, but lying in a manger. He wasn’t donning hand-embroidered outfits or designer labels; He was wrapped in rags.
There was no garland or greenery hung around the stable. There wasn’t even a Christmas tree. There was only Christ.
J. B. Phillips wrote, “What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God, and no amount of familiarity with the trappings of Christmas should ever blind us to its quiet but explosive significance… Amid the sparkle and the color and the music of the day’s celebration we do well to remember that God's insertion of himself into human history was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility."
The true beauty of Christmas is God coming down in human form to save us from our many, many sins. Jesus, first cradled in a feeding trough and eventually nailed to a cross, is the only thing we need.
All of the glitter and light and sparkle of the season can easily blind us of the true miracle of Christmas. The Instagram filters and the societal pressures to perform can cause us to lose sight of the newborn King’s humble birth. The temptation to fill our emptiness with material things can put us in a fog that can’t spot our true hope: that Christ will surely come again.
Our world loves to tell you that you need more. But our Savior, that baby boy who was wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, is our greatest need. This is a gift for today, but also great hope for tomorrow. Unlike the Frasier Fir in your living room, the nutcrackers atop your mantle, or the gifts under your tree, this hope will not wilt or decay in the attic or break or not arrive by the promised delivery date.
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
This Advent, let’s shift our gaze from the trappings of materialism to the most beautiful gift of Christmas: that humble first Advent and the everlasting hope that He is coming again to make all things new.