A few years ago, just before Christmas, Dee Dee and I had the honor of sharing a table at a fundraiser for the Beaver Creek Religious Foundation with Steve Fossett and his wife. Price of admission for Dee Dee and I: praying the blessing for the meal.
I had recently read “The Spirit of St. Louis,” Charles Lindbergh’s account detailing his 1927 solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Fossett had recently completed his own record-breaking, solo, unmotorized balloon circumnavigation of the globe. It was an invitation of a lifetime. I was champing at the bit to hear his story. Fossett was only too willing to comply.
Finally, near the end of the dinner, Fossett came in for a landing and I asked, “Did you encounter God in any way while you were up there alone?”
Fossett’s face went blank. He stammered something about the flight being just a record for him. Like the many Boy Scout badges he had earned in younger years. I was embarrassed to have asked and disappointed in how un-romantically he viewed his accomplishment.
On the night Jesus was born the angels came to a group of shepherds with an invitation of a lifetime. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ [the One you have been waiting for] the Lord. . . . You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
What? A baby in a horse trough? What’s so great about that? I wonder if they experienced similar disappointment to mine? The Messiah was foretold to be the ultimate king, born of David, Israel’s greatest king. The solution to all their problems. They were soon to learn Jesus was much more than their expectations.
And so it is. Somehow God mingles our meager Christmas expectations with much greater heaven-hope. In “The Weight of Glory” C. S. Lewis wrote, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Christmas is so much more than ribbons, bows, eggnog, Santa, and mistletoe. It’s an open, down-to-earth invitation of a lifetime. What will we settle for this Christmas? A tie and slippers? While God sings, Come celebrate, experience, worship Immanuel, I Am with you.
May this Christmas be nothing you ever hoped or imagined.