“Christmas” – do you feel happy or harried when you hear that word? I have been around long enough to know that it is usually some combination of those emotions!
Let me follow up with another question—do you wonder as you wander or scramble as you amble through the month of December? We often do “Christmas” in such a way that the wrapping paper overwhelms our appreciation for the gift! In other words, slow down, think, pray, and focus on the truth that is the reason for our radical disruption of normal life—and it is NOT the economy, stupid!
When I say, “Jesus,” is your inner response different than when you hear “Christmas?” If so, you probably just experienced the distance between the message and the mess we have made of it in the name of “celebration.” While we profess that “Jesus is the reason for the season” we live as if the season is the reason for our decisions and activities.
If you can discipline yourself to step away from the hustle and bustle, you might want to wonder at the amazing grace of God.
Maybe you have forgotten that God the Son, the second Person of the Godhead, greater than the entire universe (which He made) humbled Himself to not only enter His own creation in the identity of a creature, did so by becoming an embryo in a womb!
Do you wonder that Mary and Joseph said, “Yes!” to God and travelled to their ancestral home, not to a profitable family gift exchange, but as part of a government taxation audit? Their obedience was but a part of a worldwide exercise of the providential control of God, not so they would see a material gain but rather spiritual salvation. In fact, they never profited by their obedience! Joseph seems to have died while his children were young, with Mary widowed and left dependent on John for support after Jesus’ death. The gifts of the Magi were seemingly more symbolic than extravagant.
We should wonder in an election year about the gross manifestation of the depravity of man when an elderly politician (Herod the Great) decreed death for infants out of self preservation and promotion. An infant was no threat to him—he would not live to see the child grow up—but the potential for the people to know there was a better and righteous choice led to gross sin. So it goes for any of us who, apart from the grace gift of God chooses self-preservation over God exaltation (Mark 8:34-36).
We should wonder that the God Who had never been seen by man in His fullness nevertheless came to dwell among them. He manifested His glory, which could cost a creature’s life in a heartbeat, but only in the visual spectrum of grace and truth which could bring hope and consolation.
We should wonder that the God who shook mountains and thundered at Mt. Sinai in giving the Law sent His Son so humbly and gently that songwriters record it with phrases such as “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.”
I could go on and on, but I have to save something for Candlelight Communion and The Christmas Carol Sing on Christmas Eve!
I implore you to invest whatever it takes to stop and find the wonder of God in Jesus this Christmas season. So much of what is done is like the bright neon lights in a big city, temporarily impressive but not life changing. A greater vision is to go far away from that light pollution on a clear night and look up at the wonders of the starry sky. That’s what the true wonder of Christmas is like—wonder at the unadulterated work of God in grace.
Invite your coworkers, family and neighbors to join you! They have been robbed for too long by the substitution of man’s “celebration” of excess in place of God’s manifestation of glory. Share the truth with them! Join the carol writer in saying, “And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing, O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.”
There will be great non-threatening opportunities to share on December 11 (piano concert), 18 (children’s program) and 24 (Candlelight Carol Sing) – invite someone!