We had the most wonderful Thanksgiving in California. But when we returned home I felt as though a week of my life was missing. Did it throw anyone else off that Thanksgiving was so late this year? I found myself stressed out and struggling to get things put away, pulled out of storage, organized, decorated, shopped for, and baked.
As much as I do not love being woken by Andy’s alarm at 5:15 (and again at 5:25 – I loath the snooze button!), I do enjoy the quiet, dark mornings with a cup of coffee in hand. This morning I remembered that a couple of years ago, feeling harried before a big Christmas dessert where I was hosting a table, I sat down for some quiet reflection and wrote out my thoughts to give to the ladies at my table. Surely, I was not the only one feeling overwhelmed at how busy the Christmas season is? I managed to find those thoughts this morning saved somewhere on our computer. It was what I needed as I start another busy pre-Christmas week. The theme of our Christmas dessert that year was “Behold!” It’s not the most eloquent piece of writing and for that I apologize. But I thought I would post it here on my blog in case anyone else feels rushed and stressed and could use a moment to remember and “Behold” the most amazing gift ever given:
Luke 2:10 “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”
It is impossible to overstate (or understand!) the magnitude of what happened that first Christmas. What was really going on as Mary held that helpless baby in her arms? This baby was fully God and fully man. Do we ever just stop and ‘Behold!’ that fact? All too often I take it for granted as something I have grown up hearing.
John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
What is this ‘Word’ that was with God and was God? The Greek used here is logos which means: the complete sum and expression of an idea. JESUS is that Word. He is the complete sum and expression of God, as we are told in Colossians 1:15 “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.”
Bear with me but another Greek word used in John 1:1 sheds even more light on this subject than the English translation allows for. ‘Was’ (used twice in John 1:1) is from the Greek word ‘nen’ which means: was true in the past continuously. So according to John 1:1 Jesus was continuously with God and was –continuously God.
In this moment that we are celebrating at the Christmas season, this moment that would change humanity forever, the birth of Jesus…GOD BECAME HUMAN. John 1:14 “So the Word became human and made his home among us.” I rarely stop to simply be in awe of that. It seems sacrilegious to say it but the God of the entire universe woke Mary up in the middle of the night to feed, needed burping, and had messy diapers to change. He probably spit up all over Joseph JUST as he was walking out the door to his carpenter shop for a consult with a very important client.
I wanted our table this year to reflect the total humility and utter love that God displayed in coming to earth Himself in the form of His son Jesus. Not fancy or glamorous, it was just meant to point us to the manger scene. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges (a more literal translation is “he emptied himself of his glory”) …and was born as a human being.” Philippians 2: 6
Thirty three years after his birth in a dirty, smelly, stable because the world held no place for him “he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross.” Philippians 2: 8 Because he took my place and yours on that cross, carrying all our sins with him, we can have a restored relationship with Him and be adopted into God’s family forever. “God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.” Galations 4:5-7
Ultimately the birth of this baby brings the gift of salvation to us all. The beauty of a gift is that there is nothing you can do to earn or deserve it. A gift is something that is given freely out of the love and generosity of the giver. God’s tremendous mercy, grace and love first came to us in a lowly manger. “So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law…” Romans 4: 16. THAT is the miracle of Christmas.
Born into a world that was consumed with what you had to do to be right with God, Jesus came to offer a free gift to a people who were so consumed with “doing’ that they were missing the bigger picture. They could never be made right through the law. They could neither make up for their sins nor earn God’s grace by following the law. What they needed was God’s love and mercy. Jesus birth, subsequent death, and resurrection brought hope to a world that was drowning in the futility of doing “enough” to be made right with God. Don’t we sometimes still miss the picture today? We HAVE God’s truth in the message of His grace and we STILL sinfully think we can somehow “do our part” to earn salvation. What Jesus did was enough. It wasn’t just enough, it was everything. “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone” Romans 5: 18. Our sins were paid for in full on that cross. When Jesus said ‘It is finished,’ he used the word ‘tetelestai.’ It means: paid for in full. The debt is canceled. Our debt is cancelled. Our world tells us that nothing in life is free and if it seems too good to be true it is. Not so with God. The beauty of His plan is its simplicity. So amidst all the chaos of the holiday season, I pray that you will have time to take a deep breath, reflect on God’s amazing gift, and ‘Behold!’ the true wonder of Christmas.