George Bowers Sr.: Hiding from Christmas
Next Thursday is the day that many children live for all year. Christmas day has become a highlight for most American youngsters because of the gifts they receive on this special occasion. I remember as a boy the excitement and anticipation of not knowing what surprises awaited me under the tree on Christmas morning and attempting to sleuth out clues beforehand.
My brother and I developed elaborate plans for sneaking around the house in an effort to garner some hint as to the shape, size, and possible contents of our Christmas packages. While we knew where mom usually hid our gifts, the location was carefully guarded in the weeks leading up to the big day so we had to be careful.
One particularly important part of our annual plan, however, included a silent sneak out to the living room sometime during the night on Christmas Eve to inspect the packages. Since there was always the danger of sleeping through the whole night, we intentionally drank extra water before going to bed to improve our chances of waking later (if only I had that problem now). Since those were the days before cheap flashlights, we also devised special contraptions with the aid of repurposed dynamite wires, used batteries, and old light bulbs. Some years we even did a dry run the night before to make sure all of our equipment would perform satisfactorily. With only a one-night window, we had no room for error.
One Christmas Eve, however, we evidently failed to consume enough liquids and we didn’t wake until just about daylight on Christmas morning. Gathering our lighting apparatus, we made our stealthy way to the living room to inspect the piled presents. And that’s when we heard them. In an apparent attempt to outmaneuver us, mom and dad neglected to “dump the sleigh” until Christmas morning, and they were just then in the process of doing so.
We quickly slithered behind the couch to avoid detection. It didn’t work. It’s pretty hard for two young boys to remain quiet anytime, but on Christmas morning it is especially difficult. Our snickers gave us away and we were busted. Thankfully, our parents extended grace and did not return our gifts, but merely sent us to our rooms until the full display could be arranged. At which time, we all came to the living room for morning devotions, prayer, and the much anticipated grand opening of gifts.
I’ve thought since how silly our pitiful attempts to conceal ourselves must have appeared to our parents. There was nowhere to hide in our living room. And how similar we were to Adam and Eve thinking they could possibly hide from God in his garden. What were they thinking?
Nevertheless, in his great mercy, their heavenly father extended grace, and gave them his Christmas present anyway many years later. Even though they had to leave the garden, God provided a way through the gift of his son that allowed them, and us, to one day return to paradise.
Perhaps your guilt and shame has prompted you to attempt to hide from God this Christmas. Hear his voice of love and forgiveness calling you out of the darkness and into the light of the first and best Christmas present: Jesus himself. He came to cover our sin and make it possible for us to live forever without shame in his presence. Stop sneaking around and receive this best gift today. And if you already have, thank and worship him for it! Merry Christmas!
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.