My Twitter feed is full of blog posts about the coming year, but to be honest, my heart is still stuck at Christmas. Everything seems to have rushed past Christmas the moment the clock drifted into Dec. 26. Trees were taken down, lights turned off, holiday placed on clearance and me left behind at the manger.

It’s been a special Christmas. I’ve had such a wonderful time with my family in celebration, and God has renewed such wonderful promises that have encouraged and compelled me. It’s the first time our family has celebrated Christmas with all four of us, with it being my daughter’s first Christmas. Watching and experiencing the joy and wonder of Christmas through my children’s eyes has enlightened and challenged me.

The anticipation that children have for Christmas is virtually unmatched with any other holiday or event. In fact, it as if our entire nation catches its breath after Thanksgiving as we thunder toward Christmas, and for one month hearts are softer. We think about making others smile, purposely being generous, decorating with abandon and excess even to celebrate, staying up late with family to watch Christmas movies and even returning to church for a candlelight Christmas Eve service or mass. Though we also place stressors on the season, the anticipation we as a collective place on Christmas makes it shine.

This month as I watched my children move the candy cane through the advent calendar, watch the lights on the tree, giggle and gasp at the gifts and sing gladly about the newborn king, I thought about what I am anticipating in my life and what I am expecting and hoping in my Savior. As Dec. 25 has come and gone, I continue to mull over the absolute miracle of Christ’s coming for all people, including me and you. And, He is coming again! One day Christ will come to complete what He began on Christmas. As my children anticipate Christmas, so I want to anticipate the coming of Christ!

So, since the rest of the world seems to already be counting down to the new year, here is what God has spoken to me at Christmas and I will continue to meditate on in 2011.

I Peter 1:3-16:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Silent night?

Last week, I took Jackson to see Matt sing in our city’s Art Chorale Christmas concert. Boy, was he excited, and everyone sitting around us knew when Jackson’s daddy was singing, as he had several solos that evening. About half way through the concert, the entire audience was led in singing Christmas carols together. We all stood to begin singing “Silent Night,” and as I looked around the audience and listened to the voices ringing around me, my heart grew heavy. So many sang this carol without expression, without joy, without hope. This song is so familiar, even those who know its true meaning (including me) often sing it by rote rather than with adoration for Christ.

In reality, I wonder if that night really was silent, when Christ was born. So many sounds must have echoed that night. Desperate knocking at doors, rejection, rushing into the stable, animals roused, moans of childbirth, cries of a newborn, an angel delivering good news for all men, shepherds gasping in wonderment, heavenly hosts stretching across the sky praising God and giving Him glory, quick feet running to Bethlehem, and changed outcasts bowing in worship to their newborn king.

Yet, the peace that filled lives, that calmed beating hearts, to know that Jesus was the Messiah, the One they had long expected, echoed, too. The soft sounds of a precious child held close by his mother, the loving songs she might have sang as she rocked him to sleep, those gave hope of a promise so much bigger than she.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

And as we sang these words, I began to pray. Oh, that those around me, that every person in that room would know Jesus, and they would never be the same after encountering his love, and his peace.

Silent night, holy night. Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams on thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord, at thy birth. Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Redeeming grace at Christmas…now that is a sound we all need to hear! It is a sound that needs to be shared: a message for every person, for all time, that love’s pure light came to save us.