"So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. ...It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import.” - A.W. Tozer
There’s an expectation that surrounds Christmas of how we are supposed to feel. The lights, the music, the smells—it’s supposed to be magical. Our hearts should feel light and we should be filled with childlike wonder and excitement. For me, sometimes, I fight to get there. If I don’t feel whimsical and filled with joy when I hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” or see a Christmas tree lit up, I feel like I am missing something.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling that childlike wonder. It’s a fun part of the holiday. But what if that’s not what Christmas is? What if it’s not so much about how we feel but about the magnitude of what happened that night so long ago.
Our pastor read portions of A.W. Tozer’s thoughts on Christmas this past Sunday, including the lines above. It made me pause.
Christmas’ romantic appeal—the lights, the music, the smells—is not Christmas itself. It’s a subtle difference, but it changes everything for me.
Not only do I not have the pressure of “what if I don’t feel Christmas this year,” but I can also clear it away a bit and really look hard at what God incarnate really means for humanity and for me.
Lloyd, our pastor, talked about the theology of Christmas. About how God incarnate is a more amazing miracle than water into wine, than the resurrection, than even creation.
The creator of the universe, the author of time, the reason we live—crammed in to one single tiny human body. Jesus is a miracle. A pure miracle.
I’d never thought about the mere fact of Jesus’ existence as a miracle. But he is. Because Jesus IS God himself. Not just an expression of God. Not just a part of God. That’s amazing to me. God was walking around on this earth.
Why? Solely because he so loves us. God—THE God--embodied human flesh, walked with us, taught us, then let us nail him to a cross. He was born to die. For us.
The miracle of Jesus in light of the whole of God’s story—our story—is even more beautiful. The entirety of creation for hundreds of hundreds of years longing for a savior. God hinting at Him along the way in Isaiah and even Genesis.
Then—finally—he has come! He is HERE. The one we’ve been waiting for. This is it. Come and behold him!
Acknowledging the miracle of God incarnate has subtly yet profoundly changed my understanding of Christmas this year and brought me a sense of peace and joy and wonder I don’t think I’ve felt before. May the hope and peace of Jesus fill your heart this Christmas!
Since this will be my last post before Christmas, I thought I'd get a little sentimental on you and make a quick list of some Christmassy things I'm looking forward to about the break:
- Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is hearing the choir director at my family's church in Georgia sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel a capella to open the Christmas Eve service. It's not Christmas without it. Really. The two Christmas Eve services I can remember in which she did not do this effectively ruined Christmas.
- Fantasy in Lights. Is there really anything better than riding in a trolley with 40 other people you don't know, freezing your butts off and listening to "Holly" speak in holiday cliches over the P.A. system whilst you journey through a magical wonderland of twinkling lights? I submit that there is not. Especially when there is also hot chocolate & gingerbread men involved.
- The traditional waking-of-the-house at 7 a.m. by my brother, who is 21 years old. Leave it to him to keep tradition alive. Once I get over the initial rage I feel at being awoken at that unreasonable hour, I'm okay with it. Plus, I can only assume you miss out on Christmas altogether if you sleep any later than this. Maybe the presents self-destruct if they are still lying there unopened at 7:59. I wouldn't know.
But in all seriousness, I am genuinely excited to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I think the more I read the story, the more I feel the weight of what his birth meant to the people who experienced it, and what it of course still means today. The Savior all humanity longs for is here!
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
Merry Christmas everyone!