So, it is late on a Friday evening in January and following a weeklong conference here I sit in the San Antonio International Airport. My flight home has been delayed for over two hours, so I’ve had time to nap, read and think. As a pastor, a part of my thinking means wondering who I need to visit when I get home and thinking about upcoming sermon plans. Thinking in the airport, also means asking myself how many out- of-country flights an airport needs to be classified as “International.” My guess is at least one.
While I sit and pass the time, I begin to listen to some Christmas music on my phone. I leave it there year round but especially enjoy listening to it during January. That has been my habit in recent years. Songs from Chris Tomlin, John Rutter and Bing Crosby are some that play as I sit and think. Although I try to make the most of the Advent season, I have to confess that I listen to Christmas music in January, especially since December seems to be more and more a blur of activity. Time just moves too quickly in December and sometimes peace is elusive in the hubbub of the holiday season. The decorating, ministry, planning, ministry, shopping, ministry, gift-giving and family time are wonderful and vitally important. But oftentimes my soul craves more. I desire some quiet time — time to reflect. I want time to encounter the divine — the divine presence that breaks into our world and our lives as Emmanuel.
A piece from Mannheim Steamroller comes on through my headphones and I begin to hum along with “O Holy Night.” I love how the music swells. I feel a contentment that comes over me and it’s as if Christmas has come. In my quiet time my soul is refreshed. And as lost as I am in the strains of the violin music, I am aware of people around me. As I give more awareness to them, I see a woman pushing her cleaning cart past me. She stops to clean a scuff mark on the tile floor. There are other people, too. Other travelers waiting. Airline personnel moving on to their next assignment. And as the Christmas spirit is revived in me again, I wonder how it goes with the people I see.
Yes, Christmas season is technically over. In January, we enjoy the season after Epiphany and time marches on toward Lent. But there is something about the Christmas spirit that shouldn’t be packed away with the decorations each year. As strange as it sounds, I would like to feel the Christmas spirit throughout the year and I wonder if the people I see feel anything like I do. Do they know Jesus personally? Do the workers and busy travelers know the joy and contentment of the baby born in Bethlehem to save them? Do they think about this Jesus and consider him important to their everyday life and faith?
These are deep questions for a late Friday night — perhaps too deep. As I ponder these things, my flight number is called for boarding and I hastily pack my belongings to leave for home. And as I get on the plane, I am thankful for the feeling of Christmas that has finally come over me. I am thankful for the gift of Jesus and for what his appearing on this earth means for us. Still, those deep questions are in the back of my mind and I realize that I haven’t done anything to share my Christmas spirit with the people I’ve just spent the last two hours with.
While I appreciate the true Christmas spirit that I have received this year, perhaps in the weeks ahead I can take joy in sharing that Spirit with others who need as much as I do.