It's something of a strange Christmas for us this year. In fact, it doesn't feel much like Christmas at all. I haven't decorated nor do I plan to this year. Nope, not even a tree nor a wreath. I put out some red and white snowflake placemats, hung a "Merry Christmas Y'all" towel in the guest bath, and called it a day. Don't worry, I'm not *exactly* a Scrooge, no more than usual that is, but we are in the process of packing to move to a new home in January so unloading and reloading boxes of Christmas decor is a little more than I care to take on at the moment.
I suppose the most Christmas-y part of the month has been the boxes arriving on my doorstep. Online shopping is my friend, yes and amen.
So, yeah, Christmas doesn't exactly feel like Christmas to me. It's interesting to me how much my Christmas celebration is propped up by the externalities: the tree, the garland, the weather. Don't get me wrong, I love tradition and I think the rituals of Christmas can greatly enhance our observation of the season. At my church, for example, we light the candles of the Advent wreath on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. I always look forward to the Scripture reading and to the hopeful anticipation that marks the coming of our Savior.
This year though. In the busy-ness of the fall, December descended with shock and surprise, I am distracted, my mind is full of everything but the hope of Advent, and I think, this isn't Christmas, at least not the sepia toned version we hold to be the ideal.
My friend and fellow counselor at the pregnancy center died suddenly. Such loss and sudden grief doesn't feel much like Christmas either.
I scroll through my Twitter feed and my heart grows heavy. It doesn't seem much like Christmas there either. Our world is broken. Grief, injustice, heartbreak, wickedness, loss--this is the world we live in. We need a Savior. We are lost, desperate, doomed. We need rescuing.
I look into my own heart and, if I take an honest assessment, I see brokenness there too. Sin, wickedness--I need a Savior. I am lost, desperate, doomed apart from Christ. I need rescuing.
I need Christmas. Our world needs Christmas.
Here is the reason for the season in all its stark reality: we are so wicked and so depraved and so willfully rebellious in our sin that we could never save ourselves. Indeed we would not want to. God had to come get us.
This is the Christmas season. Not because the calendar tells us so but because today is the day of salvation. God the Father sent His Son to be born a baby. Fully man and fully God, He lived the perfect life in perfect obedience and died a cruel and horrible death to pay the penalty for sin. He rose from the grave and He lives to freely offer forgiveness and His perfect righteousness to all who would repent and believe. This is the good news of the gospel and of grace, this is the hope of Advent, this is Christmas.
“…and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21