During the holidays I will carry on a tradition begun hundreds of years ago when the Pilgrims celebrated that first Christmas in America by shopping for socks, cologne gift packs, and a cheese log for that certain someone. Christmas hasn’t been the same since. At some point I will go Christmas shopping at the mall. It will be like watching an ant farm after filling it with espresso. At least it will be like that for the females. They will scurry back and forth carrying packages weighing 10 times their body weight while the males just lounge in the nest they made in the comfortable chairs scattered throughout the mall colony, all the while wishing they had stayed at home and  spent time doing something less painful, like giving themselves an appendectomy.

Christmas shopping at the mall may not be actual chaos but it is a rude cousin. To fully appreciate your experience at the mall you need to sing the following lines to the tune of “Deck the Halls”:

“Deck the mall with lots of people, shopping for a gift I know not what;

Standing here amid the elbows, I will be in line until I rot.”

Why do we put up with the chaos of the mall, which always includes singing frogs, dancing/singing fish, motion-sensitive creepy things, and belching Santas? (Or is that at my house?) We do it so we can get the full experience of Christmas morning. Most people probably have a Christmas morning ritual that has all the grace and charm of a society tea party. At our house, it’s more like a rugby scrum. And that’s just the meal.

When we have finished opening the presents empty torn boxes are everywhere while surprised and somewhat perturbed Chihuahuas lay whimpering in the corner, wounded by projectile wads of wrapping paper. There is a trail of destruction in the house surpassed only by the carnage resulting from a senior adult trip to a buffet.  

No matter how chaotic it may get in the mall, we always seem to find the object(s) of our search. It was like that at the first Christmas in Bethlehem. Amid the chaos of Herod’s rule, the magi of long ago found the object of their search, and they found it in the peaceful setting of a stable. That was only the beginning. That little baby of bliss grew up to be the Captain of calm, the Prince of peace.

For the disciples on the sea of Galilee, Jesus was the calm in the midst of a raging storm. He simply said, “Peace, be still.” In the chaotic days of Lazarus’ death, Jesus calmed Mary and Martha. When Peter, in a moment of anger in the Garden of Gethsemane, grabbed a sword and cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus reached out and calmly put it back.

We all face difficult times. If you haven’t yet, you will. They will make you or break you. Christ didn’t come to bring chaos or difficult times. At his birth, the angels announced “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14 NKJV).

In the midst of our difficult times we sometimes get so caught up in our problems that we lose sight of Christ, but the Christ of Christmas never loses sight of us.  Bethlehem’s reach will always go just beyond where we are.  He came to bring peace. Joy to the world . . . the Lord is Calm.

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