Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Herod’s holiday greeting

IF I WERE the handcrafting type, like my wife, I’d make you a personal Christmas card with a picture of King Herod on the front.

A somewhat unlikely replacement for the usual angels, reindeers and snowmen, you might think.

But inside would be a seasonal salutation from him that I believe could be helpful for the holiday season. As the despot who feared this threat to his rule told the magi who came looking for the newborn king whose star they had followed from the East: “Search carefully for the child” (Matthew 2:8).

In other words, He’s there, somewhere. And, from the manner of His incarnation, maybe in some of the more ordinary, out-of-the-way moments you may experience over the next few weeks.

I’m all for Christmas fun (the over-the-top extravaganza that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime for its unabashed excess). However, maybe all the bright lights and bells are only intended to set you on your way. After all, the angelic chorus appeared to the shepherds out in the fields; from there the trail led to a simple stable. So be open and expectant to finding Him away from the crowds and the choruses.

But don’t just look for the Christchild in the manger. Look for the child within, too, because I suspect you’ll discover something there.

With a spreadsheet’s worth of kids and grandkids these days, Christmas has long stopped being about me. But there’s still something about the carols, the lights, and all the trappings that stir a tender part in me each year. Yes, even as I grumble about the over-commercialization of it all. It’s a reawakening of the anticipation, the awe, and the wonder I experienced as a boy.

Growing up in an unchurched home, the religious meaning of the holiday went over my head, but I believe that some seeds of it were sprinkled into my heart. After all, my Father Christmas celebrations centered on goodwill to all, unmerited gifts and a miraculous visitation—surely an echo of the real meaning of the season.

As a kid, I would wake up on Christmas morning, rush downstairs to see what was beneath the tree and declare joyfully, “He’s been!” Now, every morning I am grateful to be able to say, “He’s come.”

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