Just a little more than a week til Christmas, and I find myself struggling as usual to find that quiet place inside to reflect on the meaning of it all. There are gifts to buy and gifts to wrap, schedules to coordinate or rearrange, food to prepare and food to eat! A flurry of busyness all around. But what is at the heart of it all? What is the meaning of Christmas? Is it really about a jolly fat man in a red suit who magically gives presents to good little boys and girls (though he would appear to be socio-economically biased)? Or maybe it’s about family and tradition, warm fuzzy feelings and cozy nights in front of the fire? Or is it about the Jewish baby boy, born in a stable of all places, some 2000 years ago?
Is it really about the baby? He was an amazing baby with an incredible story chock full of angels, a virgin mother, lowly shepherds, great kings traveling from afar, the evil plan of an evil ruler. There is wonder and reverence and awe as we gaze on the peaceful manger in that silent night, holy night… the night when God entered our world as one of us, forever changing the course of human events. Emmanuel… God with us, just as He promised.
But more than the baby, I think Christmas is about the man… Son of God and Son of man. As we gaze on the peaceful manger, let’s lift our eyes to the cross on the horizon, His purpose in coming. The sweet helpless babe grew to a man of humility and power, a man of justice and grace, a man of peace and division. He came to bear our burdens, to make the great exchange… taking our sin upon Himself and giving us His righteousness that all who believe may be one with God. His love compelled Him to come and die for us; His loves bids us to die in order to truly live. (The truth is full of mysteries and paradox.)
Let us reflect on the babe in the manger this Christmas, being mindful of the man on the cross. And as we bow before Him, let us remember, too, that He will come again. Amen.