Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas is more than December 25th

On Christmas Eve, our church has an hour of carol singing in candlelight. While it could easily be routine (we know the words of all the songs) or just a time to see friends and church family (many are home for the holidays), last night was magical. My heart was filled with awe that God became a man, a baby even, and lived among us.

Later, we watched “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on television. The lion, a symbol of Jesus Christ, is compelling. I wanted to draw near, bury my face in the fur of his mane. Yet when he roared, I thought of the power of the One whom the lion represents.

How does this awe happen at my age with so many December 25's past? Is it because I know the Christmas story so well that the symbols and music of Christmas still deeply touch my heart? God still amazes me and today, this day when we celebrate the incarnation of God in human flesh, I read these words:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
The author uses the word mystery in the sense that the truth hinted at in the Old Testament was revealed in the New Testament. Throughout Scripture, even since the promise of God in the Garden of Eden, a Savior was predicted and promised. While His people didn’t fully understand how this would happen, God wanted them to simply believe. By trusting in Him as to what lie ahead, they were counted righteous. Oh, this is a mystery.

Now God asks us to trust in Him as to what happened two thousand years ago. He came to earth and put on humanity. He was sinless, perfectly just. The angels, even those who fell with Satan, saw Him. He died for our sin and rose again, and then was preached to the nations, and believed on by millions. Jesus died, rose, and ascended to heaven where He sits on the right hand of the Father. This is the mystery revealed.

This is also the Christmas story. It is more than the birth of this Baby who became the most remarkable man who ever lived. The story is also the entire life of this One who is the Savior of the world, King of kings, and Lord of lords. And this story still puts awe in my heart and praise on my lips.

Jesus, I am so glad that You came, so glad that You gave Your life for me, and so glad that You will return and take me to be with You forever. You are the blessed revelation of God, the glory that fills my heart with gladness. Thank You for giving me the greatest gift of all, Yourself.

And to everyone, may You bless each one with deeper insight into this mystery, and a very joyful Christmas.

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