John 1:14 – “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
You are probably familiar with the movie, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, with Chevy Chase. The crotchety in-laws come for the holiday. Chevy shows great delight over the receipt of the one year subscription to the “jam of the month club” as the holiday bonus. The cat is in the aunt’s box of “jello delight,” which agitates Snots, the slobbery beast of a dog that arrives with the favorite relatives who unexpectedly show up in the Cadillac of motorhomes and deposit their sewage in the gutter. The turkey with all of the trimmings deflates from the tender loving care, and plastic lighted Santa in the front yard gets a good swift kick in the bottom by one totally frustrated Chevy Chase. Have you ever experienced a Christmas like this?
My experience of Christmas in years past hasn’t been too much different. I’ve dragged my exhausted, shopping-worn body out of bed on Christmas morning to watch two kids open their gifts in two seconds or less. I received the hand vacuum I always wanted and headed to the kitchen to sweat and slave over making all those yummy but dirty dish-producing delicacies. Instead of “Away in a Manger” soothing my soul, I listened to kids shrieking as they fight over the most coveted present. Ahhh! Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year!
Is that all Christmas is really about? Is that how Jesus would want me to spend my day celebrating His birth? Is my attitude one of honoring Him on His holy day? Days later, after the dried up tree is at the curb for pick-up and the last cookie crumb is eaten, I finally sit in the quiet in my rocking chair and ponder these questions. Why do we really celebrate Christmas?
Well, the Christmas story begins one night when God decided that He loved you and me so much that He would come to earth to dwell among us. An angel came at night to a young woman and whispered to her, “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceive in your womb a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:3). Nine incredible months later, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Baby Jesus was born in a lowly manger. He was made man, born of woman but was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He lived a life much like yours and mine; He humiliated His holiness by allowing His parents to discipline Him. He was circumcised, baptized by consecrated water, and prayed fervently. Jesus worked at hard manual labor as a carpenter in the hot sun where He became tired and thirsty. He made Himself nothing and took the form of a servant. Jesus experienced rejection, even from those He loved dearly, which caused suffering of His mind and spirit. He was tempted by many of the things that tempt us today; material comforts, misuse of our power, worshiping idols of our own desires.
At the young age of thirty, He willingly gave up His life for you and me on a day when He was beaten, forced to carry His implement of death, and was nailed to that old wooden cross. He experienced a horrible death, but did this for one reason only: so that you and I could have forgiveness of sins. This Jesus who is divine and human, who is so magnificent, full of power and glory, who was the creative co-creator of this earth, never stopped being God but became humbled and was obedient even to His death.
That’s a gift that is requires me to bow down in awe and praise a heavenly God who would do that for me and for you because He loves us so much!
As I reflect on this story, I notice that my soul has become quiet and calm and I am filled with a feeling of being totally and unconditionally loved. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” How will you celebrate Christmas this year?
Kathy Milans is the lead member of the Soul Care Collective Steering Committee.
Image attribution: Maridav / Thinkstock