Christmas is here! Are you ready?
We are ready at the Kuhlman house. The stockings have been hung at the chimney with care. The tree and decorations are up, the music of the season is cued on our phones and DVDs from several TV specials are ready to play. Interestingly, with the countless number of cookies, fudge, and other heavenly sweets already consumed, I have been seeing visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head. Actually, dancing may not be quite the right word to describe it (I rather think they are moshing about to a punk-rock version of the “12 Days of Christmas”). I love this time of year!
This can be an exciting time of year. The question is: Are we preparing for the baby or the celebration? As I look around at how Christmas has becomes just another holiday on the calendar rather than a sacred, set-apart holyday, it makes me wonder …
… have we somehow forgotten the baby?
Jesus is the Light of the World, shining His warmth and direction into our lives. It comes to us through a baby humbly-born in Bethlehem. This is not just any baby, but the Promised Messiah, our Emmanuel–God with us. As we approach Christmas, I would encourage you to take a moment to read the story of Jesus’ birth and ponder this mighty act of God’s grace. Here are the beginning verses to the Christmas story in Luke 2 (If you are not sure where to go in the Bible, a great place to start is Luke 2:1-21):
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)
Christmas is filled with the unexpected. It is a story about a young couple named Mary and Joseph engaged to be married. It is a story about a hard journey to Bethlehem because of Caesar Augustus’ decree that a census be taken. It is a story about some shepherds living in a field one night who receive an angelic message about the birth of the Savior of the world. It is a story about the birth of a newborn king, born not in the richness of a palace but in the ordinariness of a manger filled with hay, animals, and the murmuring sounds of a Bethlehem night. It is more than a story of simple letters and words but is the very flesh and bone Word of God, Jesus incarnate, who came to seek and save that which is lost (John 1:1-18; Luke 19:10), to lead those living in darkness into His marvelous light (Isaiah 9:2-7). I pray that you experience the wonder and Light of the Savior’s birth this Christmas.
As we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, I hope we stay focused more on the baby than on the celebration. This time of year is more than another holiday, but an ordinarily holy time God invites us to once again journey to a manger-cave to see the lengths at which He will go to have a relationship with us. Listen to the baby’s cry in the darkness of night, the Word–Jesus Christ–becoming real flesh to live for us the perfect life which we could not. Out of His divine goodness and mercy, He seeks us out, not because of anything we have done but because of His immeasurable love for us (2 Timothy 1:6-14)! He loves you completely, sacrificially, gracefully! Let us take a moment to share this same love with others, completely, sacrificially, gracefully; to be people of God’s restoring peace in this conflicted world. Loving God, loving others, being His incarnate grace that reflects His Light in the dark places of this world.
“Jesus, Emmanuel here with us Tell all the world
We have a Savior, We have a Savior
We are no longer lost
‘Cause He has come down for us
We have a Savior, We have a Savior.”
(Hillsong, “We Have a Savior”)
Living and loving the Light,