I’m not sure why it never occurred to me before right now. I mean, I’m a “words” kind of girl. I like to play around with them, craft a string of them, look for meanings behind them. I even doodle them. I can’t explain why I am like this any more than I can explain any concrete elementary algebraic functions or why the sky is blue. It’s confusing, it just is and that’s how I am.
So why haven’t I gotten this “Christmas” word right? Why had I never looked at it the way I did this morning?
Maybe because I was thinking of food when I wrote the word “Christmas” at the top of a holiday-themed recipe. The word, broken in two, looks like “Christ’s Mass,” which literally means the the “Lord’s Supper.” I even looked it up. Sure enough, the word “Christmas” originates from “Christ’s Mass.”
The Lord’s Supper, the way we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, didn’t happen in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Day. It happened just before Jesus’ death on the cross. There were no shepherds and angels and Wise Men and bright shining stars lighting the way on that night. Jesus wasn’t just entering the world as fully God and fully human. He was getting ready to leave it. There was food. And something way different than gifts.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:3-5 (NIV)
Jesus, who is about to come into his glory, got up from the table, sat down on the floor and started washing the stinky, dirty, disgusting feet of his friends. He served them.
This really has me thinking about how we celebrate Christmas in our family. How we always have. We say the words “Christmas is all about Jesus,” we even sing those words and attend church on Christmas Day. We want to spend time with our close family and friends, but we schedule our gatherings around giving gifts.
I know the first Christmas had fancy gifts from the Wise Men. But the first “Christ’s Mass” was anything but fancy. Should I be less focused on dressing up the holidays and the gifts we are giving and follow the example of Jesus? Should our get-togethers be more like give-togethers? Should my gifts look more like getting a little uncomfortable and serving others that may not be feeling this season as the “most wonderful time of year?”
Are disgusting-smelling feet involved?
I love giving and receiving Christmas greetings. I enjoy finding just the right gift for our kids. I love the trees and lights and decorations. I love celebrating the birth of Christ and singing about that holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
But since I’m a words-kind-of-girl, I now see Christmas in a little bit different way. I'm not ditching the celebrations, gifts and the Christmas "stuff." But now I feel compelled to serve. A meal. To someone who might not be used to being served. On Christmas Day. My husband and I are going to actually schedule our holiday gatherings around us being able to serve. It’s new and a little uncomfortable. It takes more time.
And it might kind of stink.
But if Jesus had time to save the world and wash some feet, then we can probably make some time to serve too.
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