It was Christmas Eve, 1976. I was 6 years old living on SW 25th street in Redmond where I grew up. It was getting late and I was waiting for Santa to arrive. My parents kept trying to get me and my 2 brothers and 1 sister in bed to no avail – WE WERE SO EXCITED. Finally they pulled out the big guns and told us a rule we were not aware of, but now know it to be a common one used by parents throughout the centuries – Santa won’t come if you’re not asleep. I immediately went to bed. When I woke up before dawn and went downstairs to see our stockings filled with wrapped presents, me and my siblings proceeded to wake up our parents so we could open our presents. We were so excited…they were a little less excited!
When do we lose the child-like anticipation and excitement of the Christmas season? Maybe it’s the first Christmas you stopped believing in Santa or when sleep became more important to you than presents, or when you struggled financially to provide the Christmas you dreamt of or the first Christmas without a loved one. There’s so many reasons we stop looking forward to this season.
I’ve been there. But my prayer for you this Christmas has been for a child-like sense of hope and faith to be rekindled in your soul. The Christmas story may just be the thing you need to regain a sense of child-like excitement.
One of my favorite Christmas carols is Do you Hear what I Hear: “A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea, with a voice as big as the sea…” Imagine that night. When the Shepherds hear news of the Child, they get so excited regarding this announcement, the angelic visitation, the good news, a baby, and the song sung by angels. The whole thing is so epic.
We don’t need an angelic visitation to restore our child-like excitement for Christmas because there’s still good news that can bring great joy.
Jesus told us that He is the good shepherd. That he calls his sheep by name and leads them to good pastures. He restores their soul. The shepherd sacrifices for the sheep. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He’s right there with us. The world tries to kill, steal and destroy. They take more than they can give. But the Shepherd renews my strength and guides me along right paths. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
If a baby can bring so much joy to some hardened shepherds, imagine how the risen Jesus can bring us joy. Here’s the catch – we have to get up and go see it for ourselves. Once we hear the message, the song sung, the truth revealed – we have to do what the shepherds did: run to the place where Jesus is.
It was the spring of 1978 when I heard the message of Jesus’ love. It didn’t come from an angel in heaven, but a sweet little old lady who volunteered with an after school club, called the Good News Club. I heard the message of how much Jesus loved me and I remember raising my hand and in my heart running to him. It hasn’t always been easy, but He has always been there, like a good shepherd. Watching over me. Caring for me. Protecting me. Loving me.
There is a shepherd who loves you and is waiting for you. He doesn’t condemn you or judge you. He wants to save you and love you. His love alone can rekindle the Christmas spirit in all of us. His love alone can mend our broken hearts. His love alone can set the captives free. His love alone can restore the joy life has stolen from us.
Do you see what I see? The child, the child sleeping in the night He will bring us goodness and light. He has brought us goodness and light.