Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas. Is. My. Jam.
I have always loved it. The nostalgia of the lights, the greenery, picking out the right tree, bringing it home, putting it up & decorating it, wearing warm, fuzzy sweaters, drinking hot chocolate, all the gifts, excitement, & general merriment. All of it. I have always loved it.
This year has been very different for me. I’ve actually found it somewhat entertaining how protective people have become of my “Christmas spirit”…some almost disappointed that I haven’t been as “Christmas-y” as usual. My sweet husband, bless his precious sweet soul, even offered to set up the big tree FOR me because I just wasn’t feeling up to doing it myself. He said that we shouldn’t have a muted Christmas but our normal decorated Christmas especially since it’s 2020. It made me laugh for some reason (probably because it’s just too stinkin’ cute).
But really, this year has been & felt very different for me. I honestly haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it until recently. I don’t think it’s just one thing. I think it has been everything this year just wearing me out. I refresh the news & see Covid numbers are sky-rocketing not just here but all over the place. I hear story after story of people losing jobs. I get on social media & see so many more stories of people losing loved ones to Covid & other things.
I just ache. I ache for people.
I am not going through what each of these people are going through, but I ache with them for their losses & I think deep down I just know that what I’ve held as my “normal” or “ideal” Christmas doesn’t to cut it.
Throughout this year, though, with everything that has gone on, I truly feel like I have grown closer than ever to the Lord. He has done so much work in my heart- teaching me so much about myself & so much about who He is. And honestly, these past couple months, even with growing in my relationship with Christ, I still began to feel the wearing of everything happening. The “mountain-top” was fading. I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I knew I didn’t want to go back to where I was before & I knew that worn-out feeling wouldn’t last, but I still felt worn. I just knew that all I want is in my sweet Jesus, that I just wanted to be in & feel His presence, His joy, His Spirit working & moving in my heart. So this past week I’ve just spent time praying in my heart that He would help me feel His presence, feel that joy again but in a new & more wonderful way, that He would teach me something new about Himself…& OH did He respond…& He has done it through the meaning of Christmas.
This morning our pastor gave an amazing message about the true meaning of Christmas- the hope of Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, finally coming. And not just arriving, but the fact that we needed Him because of our sin. So God brought Himself low, to be that sacrifice for us. As Andre spoke, all I could think of were lyrics from one of my most favorite contemporary Christmas songs by Relient K, “I Celebrate the Day”:
“And the first time that You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior?
And the first breath that left Your lips did You know that it would change this world forever?
And so this Christmas I’ll compare the things I felt in prior years to what this midnight made so clear
That You have come to meet me here.
To look back and think that this baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did that You were born so I might really live
To look back and think that this baby would one day save me
And I, I celebrate the day that You were born to die so I could one day pray for You to save my life“
And all of that just fully hit me to my core. That the reason Christmas feels different this year is because I finally understand that all those other things (which aren’t bad things) aren’t the reason I should be celebrating. All those other things, while they’re wonderful, just don’t satisfy the ache, the longing, the desire to see people made whole. That the only thing that will satisfy all of that, is the reason I should be celebrating- the gift of Jesus Christ. Most people know John 3:16, but they forget the importance of 3:17,
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
– John 3:17
God didn’t send the Messiah to the world as a tiny baby to condemn us but to save us from ourselves. He was the awaited promise. From the beginning of the world He was prophesied about over & over. The book of Isaiah says,
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
His people WAITED for Him, they SEARCHED for Him, they LONGED for Him. One of my most favorite stories of Jesus after He was born was when Joseph & Mary bring Him to the Temple to be dedicated & Simeon sees Him & recognizes Him through the spirit of God. He immediately recognizes this tiny infant as the Messiah that Simeon had LONGED for & WAITED into his old age to see. And what did he do? He REJOICED!! Maybe we…really, maybe I take the gift of Christ for granted because I didn’t have to wait, I didn’t realize I was missing something spectacular, I didn’t have to wait in expectation because I already have clear access to Him…but maybe because of that I lose sight of just how PRECIOUS His arrival truly was. See, here’s the thing…I’ve always KNOWN that Jesus is the true reason for Christmas, but up until now, I feel like I never quite felt the gravity of celebrating Him as our precious gift…of celebrating the day my Savior, my Spotless Lamb came for me & for you.
When you think about it, He was born into this world, He made Himself low, brought Himself down to our level…as Romans says, in spite of us, while we were STILL sinners, He CAME & He DIED for us. He came, He healed, He spoke hope, He taught repentance, He took on our spiritual burdens, He took on our eternal punishment when we couldn’t earn or deserve any of it. And just wow…when I think about everything that entails, the fact that He came to save us, to call “all who are weary & heavy laden” so He could give us rest, so He could give us His light & easy yoke…my heart just bursts with joy & gratitude for it. It bursts with gratitude that this tiny baby I am celebrating has completely changed me from the inside out, that this tiny baby knew me before I was a tiny baby, & loved me even knowing I would sin against Him.
The God I serve is unimaginable, He is loving, gracious, just, holy, & awesome. And in all of that, all of a sudden my Christmas isn’t so quiet or dreary anymore. It is exploding with tears of joy. It is exploding with songs of praise! It is the bringing of a lightened heart, because all of a sudden I see that Christmas, the first Christmas, is what can bring peace where there is chaos, bring healing where there are broken hearts & lives, bring joy where there is mourning. The first Christmas brought the Messiah, the Savior of the World! No Christmas tree, no burning candle, no twinkling lights can do that…
Only the Light of the World can.
Glory be to the Light of the World!!
Merry Christmas & be blessed, friends!