The First Noel
Sometimes getting “in the spirit” means going back to the beginning.
by Erin Chewning
The alarm clock sounded and I was instantly awake. I peeked above the warm covers and took a deep breath of December’s crisp air. As I locked eyes with my husband’s, my heart fluttered: Christmas had finally come.
I felt like a little girl again—giddy with excitement and ready to race down the hallway to plug in the brightly colored lights and exchange presents. I had loved the holiday for as long as I could remember, but this year was special: after just a few short weeks of marriage, we were celebrating our first Christmas as husband and wife.
The day brought with it such a sense of newness and anticipation. It was the first time we opened presents together under our tree, in our home, and, at my insistence, in the most festive of holiday pajamas. I couldn’t help but look forward to the Christmases ahead and what each of them might bring.
As I think back to that day a few fleeting years ago, I wonder what Mary and Joseph must have felt on their first Christmas together—the first the world had known. I can only imagine both the anxiety and excitement they experienced as they welcomed their first-born son into the world. They must have breathed a sigh of relief as they counted His ten fingers and ten toes and marveled at what life would hold for their little one.
True to His nature, God had fulfilled His promise to provide a Messiah, and the first Christmas, albeit supernatural, was actually quite simple. It was a day to praise God that He hadn’t forgotten His people—that in His goodness, He had sent the salvation so desperately needed by humankind.
What if we were to return to this most basic essence of Christmas—to the simplicity, power, and awe of Jesus’ first moments in human form? What if we were more interested in cultivating wonder at the love and generosity of God than at our gifts, decorations, or even beautiful church cantatas? What if we took the time to truly worship the infant Messiah of the first Christmas and made room in our hearts to receive Him?
I find myself remembering with fondness my first Christmas as a newlywed, but how much more did Mary and Joseph savor their son’s birth, knowing He was the answer to a long-awaited promise? Luke 2:19 tells us that “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart,” but how often do we walk away from December 25th with merely a handful of good memories?
I want this year to be different. I want to encounter the Christ child and be changed. Perhaps this will be another first in a long line of Christmases for me: one of worshipful adoration.