It has been four years since I first posted this meditation, and yet, it still where my mind goes this day before Christmas.
Tomorrow anticipation will meet its climax, bellies will be filled with delights, and the new will woo us for a few hours. Before we get there though, let’s sit in today for just a little bit longer. I want to linger on Christmas Eve. I want to remember what happened the day before the Christ-child came into the world.
From December 26, 2016. . .
We live fairly close to The Morse Museum, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass anywhere in the world. On Christmas Eve, I drug our family to the Morse for 30 minutes of culture and a four-piece string ensemble.
During our quickly-paced tour, we passed by one window I found beautiful but somewhat common. The youngest asked who it was, and I guessed maybe Abraham and Isaac? We moved on to see other pieces but came back around as we were looking for the exit. That is when I saw the title.
Christmas Eve window, c. 1902
Mable Nast Crawford house, New Rochelle, New York, c. 1911–present
Tiffany Studios, New York City, 1902–32
Designer: Thomas Nast Jr., 1866–1943
The power of the depiction fell on me heavy with awe and ache. It is the night before Christmas, and God the Father is holding the son in which he has great delight. He is savoring a last few precious moments before sending him into the world. The Father knows what awaits. He know the suffering the Son will endure.
My heart breaks.
Never have I thought about the ache of the Father on Christmas Eve. We experience Christmas with such incredible joy and anticipation. And surely those were true for the Father, as well. But not one time have I thought about the pain of sending his son.
And so, as Christmas will inevitably move past and normal will return, I linger. I linger in this moment where a father holds his son and looks at him with a full recognition of the separation to come. I feel the delight of him holding his only child in his arms while also anticipating the pain of the moment when he will have to send him away.
The love of the Father overwhelms me. In this picture, it is not sterile. It is not distant or stuffy. It is tender. And it hurts.
On this day before Christmas, I am praying we continue to be struck by the very real and powerful love of a Father who would send his son to be flesh. I am praying I remember the tenderness of a moment captured in stained glass far longer than our tree stays up or the tinsel hangs around town.