Monday, 26 December 2011
The Christmas season has arrived. We have spent days, hours, and minutes preparing for this holiday. Decorations are up, the fridge and freezer are over stocked with holiday munchies and crunchies, and if you run out of room there you can also store excess food outside, just be careful that no critters get into your honey glazed ham. Gifts are tied up in string and nestled under the tree, Christmas music is ringing through the house like a chorus of angels, and holiday specials plaster the television with visions of Santa, Jesus, and family.
It is my favourite holiday, and to be quite honest for all the reasons and preparations mentioned above. Fellowship of family strides hand in hand with a well planned dessert platter and leg of turkey. And while conversation of any topic under the sun segues from one into the other guided by laughter and affectionate teasing, a ribbon of Christmas music ties itself around the room adding melancholy melodies. As dinner folds into the dish washer, the anticipation and surprise of opening gifts resounds through the house. My parents have a tradition of giving each of us children 3 gifts to represent the gifts the wise men gave Jesus. Long past are the days of when I asked for toys, stuffed animals and trinkets that won’t see past New Years. I have sharpened my Christmas list to request culinary tools, art supplies, and other useful gadgets and gizmos that will keep my creative hands and imagination thriving. As the night crawls closer to slumber, I curl up on the couch to catch the last ten minutes of Bin Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The timber of his voice serenades me to sleep and I slide into a dreamless repose.
I wake up the following morning and ponder all that has happened. Who was it all for? Why is this holiday the be and all and end? To simply say “Jesus is the reason for the season” is cliché, dull and doesn’t go deep enough. A couple weeks ago I was intently listening to a sermon in church about the Christmas season and what it’s all for. The pastor put it like this:
“Jesus didn’t need to come down to earth to have more people worship Him. He didn’t need to get more gifts and feel like the center of attention on heaven and earth. There was nothing in Him that was longing to be longed and to be loved by humans. And to put it bluntly humans are crappy lovers anyway. We have a conditional, wounded, fear of acceptance, untrusting love. Jesus didn’t come down to earth for Him. Jesus came down for us.”
Think about that for a moment. At the very end of Jesus life on earth, who was it all for? From the beginning of His ministry to the end, who did He direct His message to? Did He spend hours in the synagogue eyes lifted to the heavens talking to the angels that only He could see, rather than engaging in conversation and debate with other religious leaders? Did He come to the earth just to show off His divine royalty? Did He walk beside humans, drenched in imperfections, just to compare His squeaky clean reputation? No. Jesus came down for us.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus of course, and the benevolence of others, and the joy of family. But let us rejoice in the fact that this holiday is the beginning of healing, the step into trust and the move forward to accepting ourselves, and that is all made possible by the love of Christ Jesus, who did not come down for His own gain, but for us. Whether you believe in Him or not, He believes in you.