Has there ever been a cuter toy than the Tickle Me Elmo plush toy from the mid-1990s? In case you’re wondering, the answer is a definite “no.” Tickle Me Elmo’s cuteness was only surpassed by the hype surrounding the toy during the months leading up to Christmas 1996. Don’t believe me? Just ask Robert Waller, a former clerk at Wal-Mart who was hospitalized after being trampled by a mob of overly-eager patrons hoping to get their hands on the little red monster. Interesting how a giggling monster plush toy can make monsters out of us!
We all know that Christmas in America has become hyper commercialized. Yet, even as believers, it is hard not to get pulled into the materialistic black hole that Christmas has become to so many. We affirm in our minds that Christmas is first and foremost about Jesus. After all, every night we proudly light up our “Jesus is the reason for the season” sign in the front yard. Nonetheless, the struggle is real to keep our focus on the manger instead of Macy’s when gifts still have to be purchased, work parties still have to be attended, Hallmark movies still have to be watched, and family expectations still have to be met (even if we loathe them). Simplifying Christmas is simply not simple.
The very first Christmas somehow started without all the frenzy we associate with Christmas today. Joseph and Mary were not distracted or preoccupied in any way. In fact, one might even describe their first Christmas night as silent. Peace and joy surrounded the poor, nobody couple and their precious newborn lying in a manger (Luke 2:7). And the heavenly host in Luke 2:13-14 remind us that Christmas is about peace on earth and good will toward men. These are the things that Jesus came to establish — not the holiday we have come to know in our increasingly secular nation.
As you read this devotion, hopefully you’re sitting in a quiet room curled up with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage as you hear the crackling of the fireplace across the room. My guess is that you’re not, and something other than this devotion is already demanding your attention. But, if you can, remove those distractions for a few minutes and contemplate what God wants to teach you from Jesus’ birth narrative. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind to what it means for Jesus to usher in peace and good will. And, as His ambassador, how you can do the same in your circles of influence.