In our home, and maybe in yours, this time of year can be such a mixed bag of emotions.
Many people this time of year find themselves in difficult situations or wrestling with grief – and this season adds the burden of thinking that they should be happy, because after all, it’s Christmas.
But all is not merry and bright, is it? People we love have passed on, or are sick, or homeless, or struggling, or removed. Relationships are broken – feelings hurt, people confused. The whole world around us seems to be crying out in pain – tsunami’s, wars, terror, hunger . . . and none of it seems right.
No, it often seems quite the opposite of right – it’s all so broken and seemingly beyond hope.
But I would say that this brokenness is precisely why we celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is, at its core, a reminder of how broken we are, and how much we need Jesus to be our Savior.
The trap of Christmas is to view it as some sort of journey of sentimentality or nostalgia. We hold images enshrined in our mind of family dinners, and gifts exchanged. Lights and trees, carols, movies, games, and laughter. Impossible standards exist in our minds of a perfect holiday. And we think we need certain things to have a good Christmas. We must bake these specific cookies, watch these 3 movies, buy these pajamas. . . . Christmas won’t be complete without “xyz” . . . And we slowly confuse what is truly to be celebrated.
Are we celebrating family? “Family is everything!” some people say. I would argue that it is not. Could you celebrate Christmas if you were completely alone and without family on this Earth? The answer should be yes. It is a gift to be able to celebrate with family, but if that is our focus we are missing it. If we use “Jesus’ Birthday” as an excuse for celebrating family togetherness we are missing the point.
Are we celebrating generosity, beauty, love? Human characteristics that remind of us good? Even this is short-sighted and misses the fullness of the Nativity story. Hope in these things will quickly fade the moment we see selfishness, ugliness and hatred rear it’s ugly head in the world around us.
I will always treasure this Holiday in my heart because of all it represents: the Incarnation. God coming to Earth in the quiet dark of night, as a helpless baby. Our Holy Father showing that He is not above subjecting Himself to all sorts of pain – if that is what is takes to reach His children.
His children, that is what we are after all. We are the broken ones. Disobedient, rebellious, stubborn, selfish children.
We mess things up, and deep down, we all know that when things get messed up, someone has to pay. We look to place blame. We get angry. We yell. We cry. We judge.
And He stepped in – and said HE would pay. The best Father ever.
All the repayments for all the horrors of the world were placed on His shoulders. He was the only one who could pay, because he was blameless himself. So he took the punishment for all of it – the child abusers, the corrupt government, the sex traffickers, the liars, for you, and for me – for all who repent and turn to Him. Forever and Ever.
Our God, so wonderful. He knew.
He knew that we would remain separate without someone to pay to make us presentable as friends of the Most High. He knew we would try to learn enough and to behave well enough to earn our way to happiness and holiness – and he knew that was futile. He even knew that some would say He was just a good man (who is also a crazy liar that claimed to be God.)
Jesus knew he would have to die for all of this. And he didn’t resist it. Because He loved us so much, He willingly surrendered to a horrific death at the very hands of those He came to save. Our spotless sacrifice.
And He defeated death.
Now He waits, to allow as many as are willing to choose Him before He returns again to make everything as it should be. And on that day, that marvelous day . . . tears will be wiped away, and we will live with our Lord forever. FOR. EVER. And these momentary trials will be a small memory in our minds.
What hope this should bring us!
A baby . . . a little boy . . . and then a man, and all the while: fully God. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. This is the meaning of Christmas.
Was Jesus born on December 25th? Almost certainly not. Was Christmas once a pagan holiday that was redeemed? Yes! And I celebrate this redemption power of Jesus every Christmas. He can redeem it all! Even the darkest of nights, and the most broken lives. He brings beauty for ashes and makes all things new.
And that is what I am celebrating this Christmas, my dear friends.
The pressure is off to have a perfect Christmas! We are broken and loved!
Merry Christmas, to you. May you find hope in your heart today to look up from the brokenness and into the eyes of Christ who has conquered it all.
May you find the Thrill of Hope.