“With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! In that wonderful day you will sing: ‘Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the world what he has done. O how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world.’” Isaiah 12:3-5 New Living Translation
Once more we find ourselves at the beginning of another year. Christmas Holidays that loomed large on the horizon offered hope, peace, and joy—or was that your experience? For some this time of year is a reminder of the losses faced not only in the last year but also of those in years past.
In the Christian tradition, the weeks before Christmas are an opportunity to recall more deeply the love God has for His creation. The story of just how far the Creator was willing to go echoes from the Garden of Eden to the birth of a baby in the lowest of circumstances. And yet this child for whom angels erupted into songs of praise, shepherds left their flocks of sheep, and the world still marvels over is still an enigma.
Consider this event in relation to the thousands, even millions of those who were willing to experience death rather than deny their deep conviction of His presence in their lives. Lives are still sacrificed today by hundreds who will not deny their relationship with the God they have learned loves them and whom they are learning to love. And it begins with the story of a baby born in a stable and who as a man died on a cross. Both were occasions which confounded the angel host even as they witnessed them taking place. How much more does it leave us to ponder a love so amazing we can scarcely take it in!
Accounts from the gospel writers differ with their perspective in this story of the Christmas Child born to offer the world a chance for change. Therefore, some readers choose to reject it as a truth. Still, it offers more than we can know because what it does is nothing short of miraculous! The testimony of untold numbers reveal there is more to this incredible narrative of the Child of Bethlehem; it continues to transform lives. This is what brings many to see the story of Jesus as definitely more than some ancient story created to justify the creation of some new religion.
What it does is offer the story of a Creator who chose to experience what no other being has yet known and never has to know! The Christmas Story defies man’s logic as it reveals love cocooned in grace, love that reaches into the darkest recesses of hearts and minds. Just the thought of such love causes us to desire a process we can’t explain, but know is real by the evidence of lives made different.
The invitation sent to the world in the form of a baby boy causes confusion when we try to define what it does rather than believe what it does. So, what does it do in someone’s life? Does it make the circumstances of life in this broken existence we live no longer broken? If not, then what does it do that it remains in existence 2000 years later?
It is an invitation millions of people have chosen to accept as their reality. Millions more may accept the invitation as truly real when the Messiah finally enters the stage of humanity’s decaying relationships.
For what the story of Christmas offers is the opportunity to discover relationships that become radically altered. What it does through the amazing process of grace is reveal just how much God desires us. This revelation offers insights into the difference between the gods who demand the lives of those claimed as their own and the God who gave His life for those He claims as His.
It is so easy to find ourselves focusing on too many things which interfere with the Truth found in the person of the Baby born in a manager. Even if one chooses not to accept the story of Jesus as their reality, there is still something represented in His story on which to focus. Those life-altering attitudes mentored in the person Jesus, when incorporated in one’s life, develop the possibility for greater relationships. We can then see the need for change is in ourselves and not in everyone else.
What it does is bring to us the understanding our relationships have the potential to enter areas we never considered possible, and the gift of knowing God has designed us for something more than we are experiencing now.
One’s life is always in a process of change. Lives are either experiencing growth towards more positively connected relationships or deteriorating into the self-focus that destroys relationships. What it does, this story of a baby born to deliver a world caught up in self-destruction is to refocus hearts and minds on the knowledge healthy relationships reach beyond the narcissism so often accepted as the norm. What it does is make us aware of this narcissistic attitude in ourselves so we have the gift to choose something more that is revolutionary.
And it is revolution Jesus brought by choosing the humblest of circumstances in which to enter this world and live His life. The Christmas story, when given the chance, determines how one will understand not only one’s own life but the lives of others. However, it remains with us to choose how or if we will allow the process of grace to redefine how we approach our lives and the lives of those with whom we associate. What it does is entirely up to us and to what we choose.
“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, ‘If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come ad drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.’” John 7:37-38