With Thanksgiving and Black Friday both squarely in the rear view mirror, our attention is turned wholly and completely to Christmas. For some it’s the rush in getting good deals during the Christmas shopping frenzy, for others it’s all about the decorating, and for still others it’s about giving, in one form or another. But for me it’s about the One whose title appears in the name given the day the Christ of Christmas!
Of course, most of the month of December is taken up by the almost forgotten season of Advent. It’s about a “coming” Christ’s “coming”, not as a Babe in a manger in a sleepy little farming village called Bethlehem, but as King of kings and Lord of lords, on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, and a whole host of attending angels. But that sense of “waiting” for a “coming” that’s been promised for nearly 2000 years is often overrun by our eagerness to get on with the celebration of a holiday that is little understood and little appreciated.
For the Day that we celebrate is really about the incarnation in human flesh of the God who made us and sustains us. And that alone is something to marvel at; that the God, who fashioned us to be His image on this earth, would set aside His heavenly glory and humble Himself, in order to enter into our sinful human flesh, all for the purpose of breaking the stranglehold death had on us. It’s the story of love, not just as an emotion, but as the driving force behind God’s dealing with the problem of sin and death from the middle of the mess, not from some high and lofty position.
But beyond that is the wonder that God would submit to being born as a helpless little baby, completely dependent on humankind for all His care and keeping. And not even in a royal castle, with every provision possible to care for a newborn baby, but to be born among common folk in a sleepy little wheat farming village in Palestine called Bethlehem (House of Bread). It was a village so small neither inn nor stable for travelers to use it had only familiar two-room peasant houses, with their guest rooms on the back or the roof and their main rooms for the family and the family’s livestock (albeit with a significant elevation difference between the human and animal areas).
It was there, in a quiet, little, no-account, wheat farming village whose only claim to fame was that the great king David had been born there that our Lord Jesus was born, son of Mary and Son of God, amidst common folk, the very peasant folk He’d come to save. And they cared for Him in the best way they knew how giving Him the warm living quarters of some family’s home to be born in, with the village women acting as midwives, and wrapping Him in swaddling cloths and laying Him in the soft hay in one of the nearby mangers for a makeshift cradle (just as they would do for one of their own babies). And it was there that the lowly shepherds those who had the least hope of ever seeing heaven would come to stand among the family’s livestock and gaze at the little Christ Child and tell their story about a whole host of angels coming to them to tell of a Savior being born for them.
It’s a magical story, the story of how God took on human flesh and came to us to rescue us from the ravages of sin and death. It’s a story worth taking some quiet time to ponder and reflect on throughout the month of December, and then to celebrate as Christmas comes once more to us. God bless you, and may you have a blessed Advent and a blessed and merry Christmas!
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