What do you think of when you think of Christmas? Is there a specific moment in time that comes to mind when you reminisce on the perfect Christmas? For me, I have a distinct memory of riding in the back of my parents’ car and arriving on the snow-lined streets of my grandparents’ house in a tiny, rural town in upstate New York. I remember seeing the snow covered evergreen tree that was in the yard and the soft falling flakes, dulling the street light just enough to give it a soft glow, exchanging the harsh white light for a moment of mellow warmth. I may have only been out there for a few seconds—surely my parents didn’t want me to freeze—but for me, that moment lasted hours.
Just like the snow that danced around the street light, Christmas puts a blanket of warmth on everything. Well, for a kid at least. I remember the comfort of my grandparents’ house, the holiday assortment of confections, and the smell of the Christmas feast that descends throughout each room bringing the feel of Christmas everywhere it goes. I remember the embraces of family and friends and the congenial attitude of everyone towards each other. And the gifts—oh the gifts.
But then I grew up.
We begin to realize that Christmas isn’t ever like that for everyone and that even our own Christmases never live up to the nostalgia. No matter how much we try to bring that “magic” back, we are often struck with the realization that the world is broken, and that brokenness is creeping right outside our doors. It is waiting for an opportunity to barge into our homes and ruin everything. Brokenness takes no thought or care to our internal decisions to play nice and enjoy the holidays.
But what does God think of when he thinks of Christmas (well, if he chose to humble himself to ponder such things)? I think it’s obvious that his mind would go to a stable in Bethlehem. One in which lay his only begotten son, Jesus. He might think of the smell of the stable and the warmth of the swaddling clothes. He would remember the shepherds who he called to bow before his Messiah. He certainly would recall the praise of the multitude of angels in those fields saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!” (Luke 2:14).
The Incarnation as Promise
With all our longings to return to our perfect Christmas that perhaps never was, God, on the first Christmas that ever was, gave the world the greatest gift there ever was. This child, this Savior, is the Promise that all the Christmas joy and comfort that we long for will be given lavishly to those who believe in him and his sacrifice.
The angel said to the shepherds: “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11-12). What better way can we express that feeling of the perfect Christmas than “great joy”? This Savior will be the one through whom all the brokenness of the world will be mended.
The Fulfillment of Immanuel
It is good for Christians to look back, but perhaps we should look ahead just as much during the Christmas season. The Book of Revelation shows us that the ultimate fulfillment of the good news of Christmas—Immanuel, God with us—will soon be brought to completion: “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God” (21:3). The great joy, the warmth, the family, the feast, the peace, and the congeniality will all be there, deriving their source directly from the presence of God.
The perfect Christmas will last for eternity.
-Alex Nolette (Community Groups/Equip Coordinator)
Please click here for further information about Mercy Hill’s upcoming Christmas services and to RSVP.