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Devotion 19

Bethlehem Star

Star light, Star bright.

First star I've seen tonight.

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight.

Two different stars.

Two different missions.

Two different human expectations.

At Christmas the two are on a collision course: the star symbolizing the greatest Gift of all and the star which epitomizes our human need to give and receive.

The first is the basis for the second with the second designed to be symbolic of the first. We can't just blame our culture for the out of whack emphasis during the Christmas season because nothing becomes a cultural influence without our help.

My mother lived the Christmas season with a passion: lights, decorations, food to die for, and gifts — gifts that I learned when I became the head of household took me months to pay off. My Aunt Bee — a most loving and giving person — spent herself into the same kind of debt to pour out that love on us.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, they say, and we all know that it's true. Sometimes as adults we shake our heads when we sense a familiar pattern in something we do and say, and then we realize that we are acting, talking, or thinking just like our mothers and fathers. We're pleased when it's something positive, and we cringe when it isn't. "I promised myself I would never do that or be like that," we mutter chagrined at our reflex actions.

So I followed family traditions in both my single and married years. I have always concentrated on the birth of Christ in my decorations and emphasized Santa Claus in wrapping paper and cookies. Yes, I had always been very conscious of putting the emphasis on the right syllable, but I discovered a few years ago that I had missed the point, after all. You probably already know what I'm going to say: It's a matter of the heart. I realized that I was really consumed by tradition! It wasn't that I did anything wrong. It was simply that I was consumed with doing everything in a certain way — primarily as I had always done it in the past — and I had my celebration out of whack in spite of my best intentions.

I took a step back, understanding for the first time that perhaps my traditions had more to do with capturing something pleasant from my chaotic past rather than celebrating the Christ Child's birth with a renewed joy and awe each year.

I have made gradual changes — heart changes — in the way I celebrate Christmas. I don't know that anyone else senses them, but I know, and that's what counts with the Lord. Each year I see something new in myself, and my traditions are giving way to more expression of who I am today than what I experienced in the past.

Isn't the natural flow of the Christian life? I am becoming; nothing about who I am or what I do life is static. It is always a matter of growing toward or away from the Lord, who came as that baby in the manger. This isn't a campaign for or against presents or decorations or the perfect treats to place around the house or the perfect meal for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

This is about celebrating with renewed joy and hope the birth of the Christ Child, who was the reason for the Bethlehem star — our best choice of emphasis for every Christmas season.

For Further Consideration:

Matthew 1:18- 2:18

Luke 1:1-2:38

John 3:1-36


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