It’s panic time.
Two weeks before Christmas, and we haven’t gotten our family picture together for our Christmas cards. We have no cards. So nothing is addressed, signed or stamped. But the picture is the highlight, the one thing that has to be right, even if the cards aren’t exactly what we want. We’ve got friends and family who want to see what everyone looks like because we don’t get home that often.
Christmas cards now bring pressure. Someone else was on top of things.
We’ve done a family Christmas picture for as long as I can remember. Back in the days of film and small children, we’d dread the need to corral cleverly dressed children and get them to stay still and smile at the same time. We rarely asked the same person twice to help us with this thankless project. It always took at least two rolls of 24 exposure to get one decent picture.
Parents today have no idea how grateful they need to be for smart phones and digital cameras.
As the kids got older, the pictures became quirkier. We had a trampoline for the longest time, and one year they tried all jumping at the same time so they’d be airborne in the photo.
They bounced the youngest off the trampoline.
We’ve got some great friends who always managed to have the perfect Christmas card picture. They have six kids, just like us. But their pictures always turned out better. Classier. Every year we’d measure the success of our picture by theirs.
They set the bar way too high.
Lately, with everyone spread all over the country, we’ve done compilation pictures.
Or wedding pictures, since we’ve had those with increased regularity.
Don’t get me wrong. The cards mean something. What’s said is significant.
But folks often ignore the card and look at the picture. Or see if there’s a special note penned by the sender at the bottom. More personal. A visual reminder that someone cares.
I was out in our backyard one night, admiring the multitude of stars in a sky that had been overcast for too long. And it occurred to me that the shepherds, that first Christmas, received a card of sorts that impacted them with a picture they’d never forget.
“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! And you will recognized Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 29-12
This angel was joined by thousands more, singing songs of praise to God. A visual for those shepherds that had to have taken their breath away.
God has taken the time to remind us He hasn’t forgotten us. He’s let us know He’s there. He shared that spectacular picture the first Christmas. And with the birth of Jesus, He sent the very image of Himself.
As you send and receive cards this holiday season, think on that first Christmas. When God’s picture–and present–to us was the best thing we could ever receive.
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