I’ve always looked up to my big brother Chris, and I’ve admired his witty way with words for a long time. He has a way with alliteration and knows how to turn a phrase in a new way that catches attention. What’s amazing is that while I sometimes labor over my writing words, working to find just the right word choice, he’s able to do this even while speaking without much thought at all. He can even do this bilingually, bringing out French words he learned in high school that I can’t remember even though I minored in the language in college. I especially appreciate his humble love for God and how he longs to follow Him well. I’m so glad he agreed to guest post for me today, on Christmas Eve. I hope you enjoy his words as I do. Merry Christmas!
by Chris Wallace
That good old shiny, tin-coated, heavy lead tinsel was awesome! It had a dripping, glittering icicle effect hanging on the Christmas tree. You could fling just one strand at that Douglas fir, and it would cling to the pine needles like it was supposed to be there. As a little tinsel-totin’ tyke, I had a blast throwing pieces of it all over the tree, but when it came time to take all the ornaments down, it wasn’t so easy for me to take all those thin little strips off the tree without getting them all bent up and stuck together. And of course, just like my mom always saved all the bows from the opened presents, it was essential to preserve all of the glorious decorations for next Christmas, including the tinsel…you couldn’t buy the good stuff in the U.S. after 1972. Nowadays, most tinsel is just cheap, shiny mylar-coated plastic.
Why is it so important to us to decorate our Christmas trees and the rest of our homes with all that red, green and gold bling, and the lights on the house and the wreaths and so on? According to WhyChristmas.com,
“the evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used fir trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.
The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.”
However it all started, many of us love the traditional trappings of the season as we surround ourselves with the beauty of all that reminds us of a source of Glory that we normally do not see in our daily lives. What exactly is this Glory we hear so much about in those classic Christmas carols every year?
As we read the redemption story in the Holy Scriptures in Luke 2, verse 9, “the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” The Glory of the Lord reminds us of the “Shekinah,” or cloud of intolerable brightness, which was a symbol of the divine presence in the Jewish Temple. Think magnificent splendor!
We long for the experience of this magnificent splendor. As creatures crafted in His image, we are drawn to the Source of the divine heavenly spirit that has been deposited within us. Yet we are often caught in a terrestrial tangle, straightening out the kinks in our inglorious daily quest for brilliance somewhere in the world around us. How do we find this Glory, even after all the glitz is in the garage?
I think John Piper is onto something in his book Desiring God (review here). In this magnificent look at our source of joy in God, he asserts that as Christians, our chief aim in life is to “glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” We experience this Glory when we allow ourselves to reflect His Glory by finding our joy in Him. So there is another component to this Glory, and it is joy! Joy to the World, The Lord is Come!
I think the thought is expressed well by John W. Peterson, who has written more than one thousand songs and fifteen cantatas that have sold more than three million copies. In this hymn he wrote in 1961, he recounts the powerful conversion experience of a man at the Montrose Bible Conference Grounds in Montrose, Pennsylvania:
O what a wonderful, wonderful day-
Day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away,
Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend-
He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling,
He made all the darkness depart!
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
This man felt the true Source of Glory. It filled his soul, and he became full of joy. What is robbing you of joy this Christmas season? Is your tinsel in a tangle? This year, as you enjoy all that sparkles, will you look to Jesus the Glorious One to decorate the entire home of your heart?