Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Christmas Child

Do you remember when anticipation would creep under your skin as December drew near?  The atmosphere of your home may have been full of secrets and giggles as family members wrote their gift lists and parents tried hard to find new hiding places.

Perhaps you were a child that longed for that sense of anticipation but instead wore the cloak of sadness because neatly wrapped gifts under a large Christmas tree happened in other neighborhoods but not yours.

The Christmas season highlights the contrasts that exist within the human experience.  Christ’s birth was a star-lit invasion into darkness. God’s entry was a detonation to rescue a war-torn world. It set off the most commendable and notable shift in human history.

Jesus’ entry as an infant reveals God’s goal to identify with every aspect of the human experience-the array of emotions, the highs, the lows, the suffering and the victories.

My husband lost his father the same day that our oldest daughter turned eight.  Four days before Christmas was a concurrence of fatherly smiles and a son’s broken heart.  For my husband, the Christmas season is forever bittersweet.

The Christmas Child reveals life’s incongruities. 

Every December, preachers around the world begin to sermonize about the significance of the Christ-child born from a virgin, God cloaked in the experience of humanity, becoming one of “the least of these.”

Was it bittersweet for God the Father to watch his only begotten Seed penetrate the veil that separated the Creator from the created, knowing that suffering and death would be his end, despite the victory that this death would bring? As Jesus was pushed from his mother’s loins in a smelly, dark cave, what thoughts came to the eternal mind of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, knowing that the Son, the third Person of the trinity was no longer in total communion with them? Did they miss him?

Some may say that I’m humanizing the Creator too much, but the New Testament teaches that Jesus was a perfect reflection of the Father and if Son cried for Lazarus then wouldn’t Father grieve for Son?

Yet the birth of the Christmas Child was grand! Angels sang and the Magi wondered.
What a myriad of emotions we experience when we celebrate the birth of this Christmas Child.

Jesus Christ is the junction where the differences of human beings meet and end. We all begin life totally vulnerable, wrapped in life’s blood at the expense of another person, whose selflessness ensured our first breath. Emotion permeates our daily lives as naturally as air fills our lungs. At least until we learn the art of suppression. 

The season of the Christmas Child brings the awful occasion of two classmates, one knowing ease, the other knowing only struggle, sitting side by side on the last day before what many still call Christmas break.  Both believe in Santa Claus more than the God of the holiday, but one anticipates while the other mourns.

The gift of Jesus Christ is for both. His good news will dry the tears of the mourning and teach humble gratitude to the prosperous. His birth and life’s journey shows that strength comes from vulnerability and victory comes from death. God knew that his earthly entrance would bring both great celebration and great hostility.  His chosen people were expecting a conquering King welding a sword not a bloody baby offering life. 

This year as my family celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, I want us to pause, reflect and thank God for his constant care. I want us to ask the Holy Spirit to release child-like wonder and anticipation for what God will do our future. I want us to pray for those who suffer and still yearn to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Will you join us?

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2: 15-20 (NKJV)