Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 22, 2013

got any boxes?

I have vivid and treasured memories of Christmas Eve’s from my childhood.  It was our family tradition to have my grandparents, my Uncle Rich and Aunt Linda, cousin Andelyn, and Aunt Gerrie at our house for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother made her famous spaghetti, and we would sit at the table for what seemed like hours, telling stories, laughing and eating.  Most times we’d clear the table after dessert and play a game, and the stories and laughter would build to a crescendo and spill over the edge of our proverbial cup.

At some point late in the evening, we would all find our way to the living room.  What followed was intended to draw our hearts and minds to the real reason we were all gathered together.  The joyful “noise” of the previous few hours were briefly replaced by a quiet reverence as we found a comfortable spot and listened to my grandfather read the Christmas story.  I wonder if my grandfather knew how much I looked forward to that small and sacred part of Christmas Eve?  I’m sure I told him, but I wonder if he really knew.

It was not only the same person, it was also the same passage every year … from my recollection, Luke 2:1-20.  I loved sitting “at the feet” of my grandfather and listening to him read.  It happened so often and meant so much, that I rarely ever read that passage without thinking of him.  And the repetition was welcome to me.  You might find that odd, especially for a young man (that I was back then), but I relished it.

Something happened along the more recent portion of my journey, as I began to experience Advent.  I came face-to-face with the truth that the Christmas story had become a pretty small box in my life.  If it didn’t exist within the confines of Luke 2:1-20, it didn’t exist in my Christmas consciousness.  The story of how I got there is too big for this space, but suffice it to say it was absolutely true.

As I began to sit longer with the story of the nativity, as I began to read and re-read the stories (not to learn, but to experience), my Christmas box became visible.  This year’s Advent posts have really been years in the making.  The past three weeks have focused on stories and truths that used to exist just outside the boundaries of my box.  They are the first few things I discovered or wrestled with as the story of the nativity began to grow wider and deeper, and they have quickly become essential elements in telling the full story.  I don’t feel an ounce of regret, nor do I pronounce even a hint of judgement on the tradition of my adolescence.  I choose, instead, to express eternal thankfulness to God for the full extent of my journey with Him, which includes revealing the box.

I wonder if any of you will find yourselves in a similarly reflective and thankful place in the shadow of our focus next year on the words of Jesus?  I wonder if any boxes will be revealed around the Jesus you know (or thought you knew)?

Be present in the here and now of these last days of Advent.  It’s never too late to begin preparing your heart for the celebration of His birth.  Be present in celebrating on Christmas Day.  Enjoy the time with those you love, experience the wonder of His and your story, and be like the little child that Jesus said the kingdom belongs to.  And then, in its proper time, join us in 2014 as we immerse ourselves in the words and person of Jesus.



  1. Thank you for sharing Christmas with us. It is only the beginning of the journey.

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