I decided I didn't want presents this year. And I've shook my head firm every time I've been asked, "What do you want for Christmas?"
Nothing. I'm content. Really.
But it's not just that.
I'm tired of practicing Christmas.
I'm tired of the rush and the stress and the last minute shopping, buying, wrapping that defines the season.
"It's not about stuff," we claim as we pile packages under the tree. "It's about giving..." and worry if we gave the right thing, if we spent enough, if they'll like it.
The day comes - with mountains of torn wrapping paper and plates of food and too much dessert - and goes - with recycling and leftovers and avoiding the scale.
We return and exchange the gifts that weren't just right and we return to normal life, unaware that we've exchanged the most valuable gift of all for something less.
Nothing has changed in us and we return just like the rest of the world.
"How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?
What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" Exodus 33:16 NIV
It's not enough this year.
This year, I'm taking my gaze off of what's under the tree and resting my eyes in the direction it's pointing.
This year, I want to be as empty as my stocking so I can be filled with the solitary gift this is all about.
Emmanuel. God with us.
The God that created man squeezed all His fullness into one so we could be full of Him.
And as I offer him my humble moments of gratitude and receive His gift, I embody all the fullness of God.
Emmanuel now dwells in me.
"He who brings an offering of praise and thanksgiving honors and glorifies Me; and he who orders his way aright [who prepares the way that I may show him], to him I will demonstrate the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23 AMP
Christ-mass. The gathering of grateful hearts to celebrate the Christ-child.
The learning to empty ourselves to be filled with His fullness.
That's the magic of Christmas.
"I have come that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." John 10:10b AMP
"And He said, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" Exodus 33:14 NIV
Christmas is not about the hustle and bustle.
It's about His gift. It's about His presence in us; It's about rest.
"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy..." Psalm 16:11a AMP
The greatest thing you can do this Christmas is slow down. Linger in His presence. Rest in Him.
Come empty. And He will fill you with Himself - the greatest gift of all.
"See to it that no one carries you off...following human tradition (man's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teaching of the universe and disregarding [the teaching of] Christ (the Messiah)." Colossians 2:8 AMP
For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - and reach full spiritual stature]." (emphasis mine) Colossians 2:9-10a AMP