I love Christmas and all its trappings including the beautifully lit trees, Handel’s Messiah among all the other glorious Christmas music, the many and varied representations of the nativity… Invariably, Christmas conjures up images of softly falling snow, lovingly wrapped packages, warm family gatherings, delighted, awe-filled children, and so much more.
We easily forget Jesus entered the world in a time of darkness. There was oppressive Roman rule, poverty, and the slaughter of baby boys causing his family to flee seeking refuge in Egypt. As He grew, Jesus suffered insults, abandonment, ridicule, hunger, homelessness, constant misunderstanding, and unending solitude. And over the 33 years of self-sacrifice, he never once gave in to the temptation to retaliate. Every waking moment of pure sacrifice led to his ultimate sacrifice.
I don’t know about you, but that thought grips me. Jesus took on our very vulnerable human form. Within inhospitable circumstances, he lived perfectly…making it possible for you and me to know him and be known by him. To love him and be loved by him. And in the end, to live with him forever.
In this last week of Advent, my thoughts turn to this deeper, transcendent meaning of God’s incarnation. That in taking on our humanity and entering our broken world, we could know who Love is and what Love is like.
No matter how beautiful and wondrous the Christmas images, without the cross and resurrection, we are lost.
When Jesus came, his entry into humanity pierced the world’s darkness with the brilliant light of a new hope. Here is the real wonder: a mother fashioned by her own son, the Son of God swaddled and placed in an animal trough, a king raised by a lowly carpenter, a Savior who willingly gave up his life for those he came to save.
Maya Angelou has said, ’’Christmas enters, streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope and singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.”
These words of hope and joy are only true because Jesus came, loved, and gave his life, flinging open wide the doors of paradise to the likes of you and me.
This Christmas may the wonder of Jesus’ love lodge in your heart in ever deeper and meaningful ways. May the sacrifice of the cross light the dark places in your heart. And may the power of the resurrection bring new life to the desert places in your heart.