Sunday, January 2, 2011

Merry Christmas Every Day!

When the lights and decorations of Christmas have all been put away, I always feel a tinge of sadness that another year's celebration of Jesus' birth has ended. The anticipation that builds until that one special morning in December comes and goes, and all too soon it seems it's time to pack away everything shiny and bright.

Almost providentially--on the day I returned the last box of ornaments to the attic--my chronological journey through the Bible took me to Isaiah chapters 9 through 12, and I'm reminded that the miracle of Christmas never ends unless I let it.

Imagine a time when having been ravaged by war and plundered as a people, a spokesman for God heralded the promise of One who was to come and make all things right again. Picture with me the hope that would stir in a desperate woman's heart upon hearing God's prophet promise that a deliverer was coming!

Scholars have written that the promised Messiah could have been an angel or even God without humanity, but we are clearly told here by the prophet Isaiah that our deliverer would be born a helpless, dependent child. The promised One would be more than just man though, He would be the eternal Son of God who was able (as a result of his humanity) to identify with us in our weaknesses.

Jesus Christ, the child who was born of both God and man in fulfillment of every Messianic prophecy, was fully human and yet perfect--sinless.  If you're like me you have probably blamed your big blunders on the fact that you're only human.  Somehow though, knowing that it is possible to be perfect and human is a reminder that our problem is not our humanity but the fact that we are fallen, sinful humans. 

We, just like the people of Isaiah's day, are a desperate lot--lost and without hope apart from the deliverer that came to rescue us from the penalty of death that is the wage of our sin. Because He was fully man yet sinless, Christ could stand in our place as a substitute for the punishment that was to be ours--and that is the message of Christmas.  This message is bigger than one day each year and this story cannot be contained in a few short paragraphs on a page--this is epic!  To think that a baby born over 2000 years ago loved me (and you) enough to humble himself, take on human form and carry my sins to a cruel cross is not something easily summarized or lightly acknowledged.  He bore my shame and my sin and saved me from having to pay the debt I owe--and it cost me nothing except my willingness to believe, to trust, that He indeed is my only hope and the only way.

C.S. Lewis said it well in Mere Christianity:
..."The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.” 
I haven't learned to love that much--to care enough to stoop so low or sacrifice so fully, but I will always and forever be grateful that He did and He does.  And I think as a result I should say, "Merry Christmas!" to everyone I meet--every day--for the rest of this year.

Father, thank You that You saw fit to send Jesus Christ: Deliverer, Redeemer, Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father into the world as a baby to identify with me, inviting me through His sacrificial death and resurrection to share in the riches of His perfect relationship with You.  I will forever thank You and praise Your Holy Name.  Amen.

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