What Christmas Means to Me

image courtesy of davedehetre via flickr
During my last year at Furman, a few of us were asked to share at a meeting for a campus ministry about what Christmas meant to us.  Most people talked about things like Jesus, or family, or giving, or God's love.  Not me.  That would have been waaaaay too simple. 

Earlier that week, walking through the parking lot near my apartment, I saw Orion (the only constellation I can readily recognize).  When I saw the tell-tale 3 stars in a row (forming his "belt"), it hit me that God intentionally put each star exactly where He wanted.  Long before He made us, He knew that we would notice, and He knew that I would notice on that night.

To me, that is what Christmas is about.  God didn't "accidentally" send His Son, and Jesus' death did not catch Him by suprise.  God was intentional over 2000 years ago -- intentional to send His only Son as a baby, intentional that His Son would live a life of humble service, and intentional that His Son would grow up to die for our sins.

That was my Christmas message to my classmates more than 10 years ago, and it's my message to you, reader:  "Merry Christmas.  Jesus died." 

It's funny how my son Elijah can think like me in so many ways.  A couple of weeks ago, as an Advent activity, the kids made Christmas cards to give to others, and they had to include a Bible verse.  Which verse did Elijah choose all on his own (I've never told him the above story)?  Luke 23:33, which says,
"When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified--one on his right and one on his left."

Joanna didn't know how to respond.  I was elated.  You have to admit, that is the essence of the Christmas story, and of the story of the Bible.  It's not just about a sweet little baby, and it's not just about the miracle of a virgin birth.  And it's definitely not about being "inspired" to live a good life.  It's about God coming down, humbling Himself to be a part of humanity, so that He could pay the price for our sin.

It's the same reason why I think Hanukkah is so meaningful.  "God performed a miracle . . . as a means to allow us to be near Him in worship. . . .  Jesus did not come only to be marveled at as a baby, but to pour out His life and blood, to open the way for a new covenant with Him."

What does Christmas mean to you?

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