Christmas is the season for special deliveries.
For the last two years, after moving my office from church to home, I watched Christmas unfold through my window facing the street.
All through December, I surveyed postal and parcel workers leaping from their trucks, running to front doors and delivering their goods.
USA Today reported that over 2.5 billion packages were delivered last year, with an expectation that the number will climb in 2019.
Around five o’clock in the afternoon, I observed neighbors returning home from work. As they got out of their cars, they would take notice of the packages on the porch with a wide range of emotions.
Over the last two Christmases, I have learned a lot about my neighbors through their reactions toward those packages. Their wide range of responses even inspired me to give them names.
The Runner is quite the joy to watch return home after a long day at work. The Runner cannot get to the front porch fast enough, breaking into a slight jog. When he arrives at the front door, he drops his briefcase and examines the package carefully. After a few seconds and a little out of breath, The Runner races through the front door forgetting his briefcase outside.
The Shaker does not run to her front door, but when she sees a new package on her porch, she gets just as excited. Walking briskly to the front door, she stops to stare at the brown box left for her. She picks it up, taking notice of the sender. Then, after a few seconds of contemplation, she shakes the package violently in what I can only assume is an attempt to discover its contents.
The Architect is the most satisfying to watch. She approaches her packages with great caution and care. She picks each one up, examining it prudently. Then, after setting them all back down on the porch, she places the largest at her feet. One by one, starting with the largest to smallest, she stacks them – creating what looks like a small Egyptian pyramid. It’s stunning.
The Shoppers must not have anything better to do during their days. As a husband-and-wife team, they receive three to four packages per day. USPS, UPS, Amazon and FedEx all stop by their house dropping off the latest gifts. I’ve watched as the UPS driver and the husband have a 15-minute conversation; I presume catching up on their families. I have no idea what The Shoppers do for a living, but they really enjoy getting packages.
The Accountant lives down the street. His reaction is not like the others. By the expressions on his face, he seems a bit perturbed that someone inside the house keeps ordering things online. He shows no excitement or enthusiasm. In fact, when he sees a package leaning against the door, he literally stops and shakes his head. Shuffling to the door, he picks up the package and examines the writing. He shakes his head one more time as if to be indicating “not another one.” Based on his reaction, I’m assuming he pays the bills for the family.
Soon, the special deliveries will slow down, and the reactions of my neighbors will return to normal.
However, for one brief moment each year, I get to peer out my window and watch my neighbors on the lane welcome the arrival of Christmas.
In the traditional Christmas narrative of Luke, angels acted as the USPS, UPS, Amazon and FedEx personnel.
They made a special delivery of their own, announcing the arrival of God’s special gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger (Luke 2).
As Christmas quickly approaches, Christians around the world will react in numerous ways.
Some will celebrate Christmas with hardly a mention of the Christ child, instead focusing more on the commercialism and materialism of the day.
Others will concentrate so much of the solemnness of the day that they will forget to enjoy the season. Part of the Advent litany is joy; therefore, Christians should celebrate this season with merriment and laughs.
Just as the holy family, along with the shepherds, gathered in a stable, families still gather with friends to welcome the arrival of the baby Jesus.
Still others will suffer through another holiday season filled with grief due to the loss of a loved one, financial strains, employment turmoil or relationship heartache.
For those finding this season particularly difficult, know that the hands who delivered the baby in Bethlehem are holding you up as well. Christmas, even though painful at times, is for you as well.
As Christmas quickly approaches, let us remember the special delivery of that day long ago.
No other person in history has transcended the annals of time quite like Jesus. No other person has made quite the impact. No other person has ever loved quite like him.
Simeon, the old priest, probably summed it up best when he thanked God for the birth of Jesus, calling the baby boy, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
God’s gift at our doorsteps this year remains the same, a swaddled savior who changed our world.
Jesus is the special delivery. What will your expression be?