Friday, December 18, 2009

Joy And Magic

Reproduction of a Column from Last Year

Jennifer Hartline reproduces a column that she wrote last year about the Joy and Magic of Christmas, and I reproduced it here with her permission. Hopefully, the reproduction of a reproduction does not diminish the clarity of the message.
Well, the headlines this week have really got me down and scared. Our country is truly sinking fast into a black abyss.
So, I really needed to read this one today. (Bear with me while I re-run another post from last Christmas.) Today I'm fighting tooth and nail not to wallow in despair at the current state of things in the world.
I miss innocence and purity and joy. Anybody else feel that way? So, in the fighting spirit, I will not surrender, but will hold onto the innocence and joy of the Infant King and the magic of Santa.
Hope you enjoy it, too.
I have a confession to make.
I’m 38 years old, and I still believe in Santa Claus.

Okay, I suppose that’s not entirely accurate. My heads knows that Santa isn’t real, but my heart refuses to accept it. I’m pretty sick of my head lately, so I’m going with my heart.

I watched The Polar Express tonight with my daughters,

and they weren’t the only ones giddy with excitement. They weren’t the only ones mesmerized by the magical train as it sailed across the ice toward the North Pole. They weren’t the only ones who cheered out loud when Santa held up the silver bell and announced, “The first gift of Christmas!”

I was completely caught up in the thrill, the wonder,

the delight…the MAGIC.

I caught myself smiling from ear to ear and felt my heartbeat quicken with anticipation. For a while I forgot how old I was, and I felt lighthearted. I felt like a child again.

And then, oh…reality reemerged. I’m all grown up, with worries and responsibilities, and problems I can’t solve. My fleeting moment of childlike joy was fading.

But I am a stubborn woman and sometimes that works to my advantage. Tonight is one of those nights. I have decided that I will not surrender my childlike joy. I’m not handing it over to grown-up reality and you can’t make me!

I’m going to cling to that feeling of wonder like my toddler clings to my leg when she doesn’t want me to leave. I want that sense of delight engraved on my brain with rainbow sprinkles. I’m going to pretend I’m a child again this Christmas.

Jesus likes children.

Jesus likes children so much He came to us as a child. He left explicit instructions about how we are to approach God if we desire to enter the kingdom of heaven. We are to “become like little children…” Trusting. Unpretentious. Joyful. Innocent.

That’s what I’m missing with such a profound longing…my innocence. That’s what I was reminded of while watching a magical movie with my girls. (Sigh) I miss my innocence.

Susan Ashton sings a great song about this called Innocence Lost.

“Lullabies and pennies in a wishing well

Sad goodbyes to friends of make-believe

A love so pure, a treasure

Now buried in the sea of me

Milton lost his paradise

Dorothy lost her way

Vincent lost his sanity

Thomas lost his faith

Hoover lost the second time

Sigmund lost his friend

Me, I lost my innocence

And I want it back again”

I understand that I will never be five years old again, but I desperately want some measure of that childlike innocence back again. I want unadulterated joy and wonder, the kind that makes me dance
and sing out loud.

Maybe that’s part of what Jesus meant when He told us to become like little children. Humble in spirit, yes, but also innocent in heart and excited in our faith in Him. After all, He’s everything we ever could and ever have wished for! He came true!!

And tonight as I got lost in my childlike detour, I realized something wonderful. My mind and my heart were rushing with thoughts of Him. Even better than the fantasy is the reality! I was tingling with joyful anticipation of Christmas day, not for the sake of presents brought by Santa, but because I can hardly wait to celebrate THE GIFT.

It seems this indulgence in make-believe has caused me to recognize all over again -- but with purer eyes – the JOY of Christmas! JESUS came as one of us; born a poor, helpless infant…He whom the universe cannot contain now sleeps cradled in Mary’s arms.

There will be plenty of days ahead to turn our attentions toward the serious business of life, but for now, I say it is time to be filled with childlike awe and wonder and joy for the gift God has given us. It is time to recapture some of our innocence again, and linger there for awhile.

Emmanuel…God is with us…the angels are singing GLORIA! I think I’ll join them.
I myself, have long since lost my innocence, and by the grace of Our Loving Saviour, and his self giving birth, death and resurrection, I have also lost my Guilt. I have been born again into His innocence, the innocence of a child in a manger, and even more so into the innocence of the Man Jesus, bought and paid for by His Blood.

God is with Us. And so I leave you with Amy Grant's "Emmanuel, God With Us."

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