“He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.”~Augustine
As I ponder Augustine’s declaration concerning the birth of Christ, I ought to wonder how far I have strayed from the scriptural view of the birth of Christ. I sometimes think we Christians bask in the light of Jesus’ humanity at Christmas at the expense of His divinity. I often wonder, during this time of year, if Jesus came to visit our home and saw us wrapping presents, listening to the Christmas music, and preparing the food, if He would get it. That is, all we are doing is for Him. Could He walk into our homes between now and December 25th and say, “Right, I get it! This is all for me!”
In order for you to under stand what I am trying to say, I need to take you back a few years… quite a few, about a hundred years ago (OK, it just feels like a hundred). When I was five years old, my mother threw me a surprise birthday party. I found out two things very quickly during that one and only surprise birthday extravaganza.
First, I found out that I had more friends than I first thought. Our little home was jammed pack with co-kindergarteners and they all seemed to be very happy to be there. We ate lots of food, drank lots of Kool-Aide, played games and sang at least one song, “Happy Birthday, Patrick!” Wow! What a time! Could it get any better than that?
Second, I learned that those who made a special observance of my birthday turned on me pretty quickly when the party ended. As all my kindergarten colleagues were leaving, I noticed them picking up the gifts they brought for me to open! I was extremely confused over this and asked my mother what the normal social protocol was for such celebratory gatherings (seeing this was my first birthday party). Actually I remember saying, “Hey mom they’re taking my toys!”J Mom came to my rescue and gifts were returned, but I didn’t make any lasting friendships that day because of it.
I wonder if Jesus is pleased with our social convention of buying lots of gifts (mostly for ourselves or loved ones), going in debt, eating in excess, and watching “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” for the 20th time (by the way, the ending is still the same no matter how many times you watch it)? When Christmas day is all over, would Jesus say, “Hey, thanks for the great meal and all those special gifts. I am so thankful you thought of me today”? Or would He say, “Hey, why are you taking my gifts? Didn’t you give them to me? This is my day, remember?”
The Apostle John doesn’t tell us about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, His flight into Egypt, or the encounter with the Magi. His Christmas story is far grander and far deeper with significance. He says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) WOW! What a Christmas story: God becoming man, and bringing within Him pure grace and pure truth. I don’t know about you, but this is Christmas. Think on this love for a moment. “God loving the creation He made in His image and likeness so much that, even though they have sold Him out for the pleasures of sin for a season, He decided to come to earth anyway, taking up their form and go from the cradle to the cross for their benefit.” Paul writes in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christmas can’t get any better than that! Why? Because there has never been a greater gift given to one human to another than the Son of God coming down to an undeserving people.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, let’s give the Savior something He would recognize on December 25th. Let’s throw Him a surprise birthday party. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “We can’t surprise Jesus. He is God.” True, but maybe we can get Him to smile. After all, that’s what we are looking for, isn’t it? Aren’t we looking to bring Him pleasure on His birthday?
This is Pastor Whalen wishing you Joy in Jesus and a very Merry Christmas!