While practicing our choir Christmas music this afternoon, which is very worshipful, I find I am in a weird place regarding Christmas this year. I love the lights and the decorations and, most especially, the wonder and worship of Christmas - the reminder of God With Us, our Immanuel, and that's the part I look forward to. If allowed to focus on our great and awesome God and His immense grace in coming to redeem us, in coming to live among us and do for us what we could not do and reconciling us to Himself through the cross and His resurrection, Christmas can almost undo me, in a good way. I love that the beauty of the story does not end with the angels singing to the shepherds on that night in Bethlehem, and it does not end with the wonder of the Baby born in the stable, and it doesn’t end with the majesty of the wise men coming and bringing gifts to the Child and bowing in worship before Him. That is beautiful and glorious, yes.
But the wonder of Christmas is that in fulfilling all the prophecy of a coming Messiah, the manger looks forward to the Cross. Jesus came to redeem us to Himself. He endured the humility of taking on human flesh and living among a people who did not recognize Who He was, who refused to see and repent when He confronted their false and corrupted traditions that mocked the God they claimed to serve, and who eventually turned on Him and spit on Him and humiliated Him to such a point that He suffered the humiliation and shame of a gruesome Roman cross. And as He did so, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And when He died, He triumphantly cried, “It is finished!” and the Temple veil was torn top to bottom. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the way is open to God the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. He rose again on the third day, death is conquered, by His stripes, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, and He is our Great Shepherd.
So, I love the wonder of Christmas. I am not a scrooge. My oldest son gets to be in the drama part of the Christmas musical this year, and our youth minister has written a wonderful drama to go with our choir music. I love the part my son gets to play. It will add much to our celebration and point our eyes to our King this December.
But I don't so much like the hustle and shopping and trying to decide what to get for everyone without overdoing it. That’s where I’m feeling a little scroogish. That part I'm not so much looking forward to this year, and wish I didn't feel so panicked about it already. This year, especially, I am dreading the material celebration of Christmas, and I’m trying to tone it down. I’ll go shopping, but I don’t want that to be our focus. We have not done as well with that in years past. Thankfully, the economy is helping us with that this year, too.
Anyway, I really enjoyed practicing my Christmas music this afternoon. May I keep the reason for the season in the forefront this year.