I don’t know if you’ve read David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers, but he shares a story that I think captures some of the challenge we face at Christmas. As you know, Wilbur and Orville were two self-taught engineers from nearby Dayton, Ohio, who worked in a local bicycle shop. When they made their successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, they couldn’t wait to share the wonderful news and then get home for Christmas. The brothers sent word home to their family in Ohio. The message was, in essence: “Achieved successful flight Thursday morning with engine power alone for 59 seconds. Inform press. Home for Christmas. Orville Wright.” Their sister excitedly took the message to the local paper. When the paper came out the next day, the headline read, “Two Local Men from bicycle shop return home for Christmas!” What the paper printed was true! But it had entirely missed the point.
Every Christmas we have the same challenge: Not to miss the point!
It is so easy to get side-tracked this season. I had a melt-down over not being able to find all our Christmas decorations from the move! Turns out, my fake ivy to wrap around the stair rail may not be a critical part of the Christmas experience. Again and again, God calls us back to the joyous heart of the season, as the angels called to the shepherds long ago:
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2: 9-11)