Where are your thoughts this Christmas – Dec. 21st, 2018
Janet scurries to the car, arms laden with purchases. ‘It would have taken too long to push a cart out of the store and then place it in the cart rack’, she thought to herself as she surveyed the list of afternoon objectives she insisted on accomplishing. After all, it is but a few days before Christmas and she so wanted everything to be perfect this year.
She reflects momentarily back on a time when she was younger to a Christmas that she felt in every way was idyllic. It simply couldn’t get any better than that Christmas, but she was going to try and exceed it for her family this year!
Next, next, next! What sequence would accomplish her goal in the most expedient way? She had to get back to the house by four to start supper for her husband and kids. OH, that’s right! The twins are having their best friends over for the night, the Lacy twins. The four of them always had such a good time together.
Janet surmised that she would have to add to her schedule one more stop, the grocery store so she could pick up a few extra things for supper and snacks for the two sets of twins and David their eight-year-old tag along little brother.
This would be the greatest Christmas ever!
Then again, lost in the shuffle of all of this Janet remembered the sermon her pastor gave last Sunday. He was talking about Christmas and the glorious gift God sent us. The Messiah coming to free the world from the bounds of sin and death.
It wasn’t sitting real well with her, between her holiday plans and activities, contrasted against the back drop of God in the flesh coming to deliver us.
As she pulled into the parking space at the next stop, the realization that she had somehow automatically arrived at her destination jolted her mind back to her agenda and the objectives for the afternoon.
Into the store she strode confidently.
Celebrating the Season
Painting the perfect Christmas scene in real life isn’t exactly easy. It requires a lot of planning, focus, and discipline to assemble the trappings we have piled onto what in essence is the recognition of life given to a dying world.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6-7 (CSB)
It’s not that our traditions are wrong or the least bit sinister in most cases. The problem is that our traditions have become more the focus of the celebration, than the cause to celebrate.
Therein, is a problem. A common problem, but a problem nonetheless. We have this issue every year and despite slogans of “the Reason for the Season” and others that are well intentioned, we don’t spend nearly enough time and focus on Christ’s role in Christmas.
You see the preparation for Christmas wasn’t rushed together just before transition from BC to AD. On the contrary, this birth of a savior was planned and brought to being over the course of many more thousands of years. In fact, it actually started before there were years to begin with.
Though the creator knew that there would be a need for a savior to be born to redeem his creation, He opted to create. Before He began creating, He had a firm grasp on exactly what would be called for to accomplish mending the relationship between God and mankind, which would ultimately be broken when His creation would rebel against Him in the Garden.
As a result of the sin of open defiance, separation came between God and the creation.
The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:22-24 (CSB)
From that very moment forward the Creator put into action first a promise of a savior. Then over the many years to follow He revealed more and more about this coming Messiah, the one who would set free the prisoners.
The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify him.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (CSB)
The planning to put God in a cradle fashioned from a manger, in a stable wasn’t an improvised last-minute substitute for the birth of the King of Kings. Jesus himself points directly to this passage in Luke 4:18.
It was a plan forged before the beginning of time and orchestrated over the generations that the Son of God would come to be one of us, living among us, all man and all God. Just so that He could present Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sin and destroy the chains keeping us from living in harmony with the Creator, instead of being the foe of righteousness.
For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.
Romans 5:10-11 (CSB)
It wasn’t chance that placed the Son of God in a manger that night, it was grace. God grace bestowed on a creation that he had fashioned from nothing, so that He might be everything to us.
The gift, redemption of Creation, tucked neatly in a manger.
This is the important part of Christmas, it is the only reason we celebrate the holiday. The ‘reason for the season’ is Christ Jesus, but His reason for his arrival was to reclaim that witch was his to begin with.
Before we close this devotional for today, I would ask that you reflect back on the scriptures that have been included here. Note something, joy is present. Joy is our present! Unspeakable joy!
Enjoy your traditions this Christmas but be certain that your focus is on the greatest gift of all that God gave to us over two thousand years ago. Immanuel, the Messiah, and Joy to the world, as the Saviors come!
In His Grace, Kip…