Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the day with loved ones. Families, friends near and far, and all those you hold dear. I can’t quite pinpoint why I love Christmas so much. I think it’s a mix of several things. I absolutely love my family and friends, and no matter where they may be, or what’s going on, I feel closer to them on this day, and truly grateful that God has placed them in my life. Aside from life itself, and the sacrifice of Jesus, I will always view them as His greatest gifts to me. Being near them in any way warms my heart on this freezing cold winter day!
I never forget the true meaning of the season though: The birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now, I will always feel unworthy of being a Christian. I am a deeply flawed human, and am aware that I am a sinner. Sometimes acutely.
But on this day, when I truly take in what it means, I always feel that it is a renewal for me, and a chance to strengthen my faith in Him. A sort of New Year before New Year’s Day. I feel incredibly weak in my faith often. Like I am often not being who He created me to be. But Christmas Day gives me a shot in the arm and renews my strength. I can only imagine what that first Christmas must’ve been like.
King Herod had sent the three Wise Men to scope out where the newborn Messiah was, so that Herod himself could pay homage (though secretly Herod was planning to kill Jesus, so as to eliminate the baby who he thought would one day challenge him for the throne of Israel). But angels appeared to the Wise Men, and warned them not to return to King Herod with Jesus’ location. So they went home after visiting Jesus, Mary and Joseph, instead of returning to the King.
The next part of the story always gives me chills. I place myself in the shoes of the shepherds who were near where Jesus was born. I can only imagine suddenly seeing what looks like a bright, prominent, four-pointed star overhead. I wonder how far they had to ride or walk before it seemed to stop moving? On the way, I also imagine how spooked and shaken they must’ve been when the angels greeted them with the Good News. The angels always seem to scare people whenever they show up in Scripture, don’t they? Can’t say I’d blame the shepherds. I’d probably be terrified too!
I always imagine the sky being extremely dark. It’s at night, and the shepherds see nothing but the star overhead, the sand or grass in front of them as they walk or ride, and the silhouettes of all those riding along with them. Suddenly, they are all illuminated by a blinding white light, and can hear a voice saying:
“Fear not. For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Imagine hearing those words plain as day, and possibly seeing angels with your own two eyes. Goodness! If that didn’t convince you something BIG was happening, I don’t know what would!
Along with the nativity story, a line from one of my favorite Christmas hymns also focuses my heart on the true meaning of the season:
O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight.
That small passage tells me so much. Especially that last line. People waited for hundreds of years for a deliverer. They suffered, cried, hoped and prayed for relief, that one day, their Messiah would come to them. Many sadly died before seeing that day. So I can only imagine the unbridled, emotional, and overwhelming joy that many felt at Jesus’ birth. I do not know how I would’ve reacted if I had lived back in Jesus’ time, and had seen Him as a baby with my own two eyes. Although a wise old man named Simeon had a reaction that certainly seemed like what you’d expect from an ordinary person who realizes he’s witnessing something extraordinary.
Simeon was a holy man, and a believer in the coming Savior from the get go. God had told him that he would not die before having seen the Messiah. So once he laid eyes on Jesus after He was born, and while He was being presented at the Temple for circumcision, Simeon simply said, “Now I can die content. Lord, bid your servant go in peace.” I just imagine this enormous weight being lifted off Simeon’s shoulders, and pure joy filling his heart. In a similar way, Christmas today gives me a sense of relief and happiness. Simeon was focused on Jesus when he saw Him in the Temple, and Christmas allows me to retrain and renew my focus on who Jesus is and His saving mission for all of humanity. It gives me a renewed sense of hope.
I also view Christmas today as Jesus letting us share in His joy by being with those who matter the most to us. Jesus always wants what is best for us. Sometimes that is by learning something important through pain, difficulty and perseverance. Sometimes it’s through prayer and study. But on joyful days like Christmas, I imagine Him here, watching over me and my family, and taking joy in seeing us all happy in each other’s company 🙂
Christmas is so beautiful when we truly realize what it means, and all that comes with it. On this day, we commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Redeemer. The one who can, and does forgive our sins, and walk alongside us each day. If we only sincerely ask Him to.
From me and my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas everyone!