One of our annual Christmas traditions is to watch the movie "Christmas Vacation" on Christmas Eve. Some of the funniest scenes for me are those in which "Sparky", the Midwestern, all-American family guy, interferes with the lives of his young neighbors, Todd and Margo. They are picture perfect on the outside, but they would never fit into the family traditions of Sparky's normal (meaning: dysfunctional) family. I try to imagine self-centered Todd and Margo as parents with a newborn baby. They are so into themselves and their lives that it leaves me wondering, who in the world would care for the baby? They would soon learn that receiving a Child creates new priorities.
Do you picture Joseph and Mary to be like Todd and Margo? Somehow, I don't. I think that they had to be a little bit more like Sparky and Ellen Griswold, managing chaos with a smile. On the first morning after the first Christmas, what do you suppose the new Mom and Dad did? Did Joseph make Mary a nice hot cup of coffee, or at least retrieve it from the Innkeeper? Did Mary tell Joseph it was his turn to rock the Baby, or did she just want to hold on all of the time? Joseph and Mary certainly couldn't lace up the Nike's and go off for a morning run through the streets of Bethlehem. Who would have watched the Baby?
We celebrate Christmas as a reminder that Jesus voluntarily gave up his place in Heaven to come live with people like Todd and Margo, Sparky and Ellen and Joseph and Mary. And you and me. On this first morning after Christmas morning we all need to ask ourselves, "what about the Baby?" This Baby now, in his Spirit, seeks to live in each person. Are we willing to set our priorities so that there will we be time to care for the Christ Child? Will we surround the Child with a nurturing environment?
The Baby has arrived. Are we prepared for what’s next? We cannot be less prepared than Todd and Margo. Or Joseph and Mary. "God with Us" comes to everyone who will receive Him. But, like Joseph and Mary, once we receive that newborn into our lives, we dare not just ignore Him. We need daily reminders that we have a new Child in our lives. Christmas Day may be over but be careful not to throw out the Baby with the wrapping paper. Don’t put Him on a shelf in the basement with the decorations. Keep your focus on what needs to be done to keep the Child alive in your life and, miraculously, you will receive the gift you have waiting for: the salvation of your soul.