My Christmas was equal parts horrible and awesome. Thankfully, the horrible parts preceded the awesome parts, so it was okay.
However, this Christmas season got me thinking more about why we celebrate the holiday and why it’s so important. I mean, sure, we all know that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, and we try to convince ourselves that the reason we exchange gifts is because Jesus is the greatest gift given to the world so… I suppose that make sense in some sort of bizarre, overly-rationalized kind of way…. and we go to church and try to be filled with love and good cheer and charity in between stuffing our faces and getting greedy over the fact that Aunt Susan totally forgot about us this year, and we invite friends and family over and talk about how thankful we are for this and that and the other thing and clearly all of this is about the little baby Jesus.
Except that it’s not. You know it. I know it. Jesus knows it. Our Christmas traditions really have very little to do with him. Sure, we put up manger scenes in an effort to pretend like we know or even care, but we don’t actually think about it or reflect on it because we’re too busy making food, cleaning the house, and wrapping presents.
I’m as guilty of it as the next person. Every year I’m determined to remember why this holiday is so important but… everything about it just rings hollow. We’ve all heard the “baby born in a manger” story so many times that it feels more like a dried-up fairy tale than a source of hope and encouragement. Christmas has become a holiday full of platitudes and empty messages void of meaning. I finally realized that this Christmas, and so my initial thought was, “Seriously? Christmas? What’s the point anymore?”
And then it occurred to me.
Christmas has nothing to do with a virgin birth, or a baby born in a manger, or wise men following a star, or the coming of a messiah. Those are just scenes from a story. Christmas is about so much more than that.
At its core, the message behind Christmas is this: That an all-knowing, all powerful deity would humble himself to such a degree so as to experience the suffering and hardships of the human condition in order to better serve, heal, love, deliver, minister to and save his creation.
Of all the world’s religions, what other God has done such a thing? What God would do such a thing? What kind of love, compassion and mercy would a God have to have in order to do such a thing? How massive and all-encompassing is His love that He would do such a thing for us – His lowly, insignificant, flawed creation?
And that’s what Christmas is all about – not a baby in a manger or good will and glad tidings. It’s about a God with so much love that He humbled Himself for us in order to save us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16