The night was clear but cold. I pulled my shawl closer to ward off the chill. The heater would soon warm the house, but the cold scene in front of me continued to draw me in. I stood alone in front of the Nativity spread out on the buffet this year. In the past we put it under the tree, where it got pushed to the back, losing its place as the center of attraction, crowded out by gifts. No room under the Christmas tree. Ha!
What a cliché come true. Yet putting it in a more prominent place was fitting. Here it would receive the attention it deserves.
The ceramic baby lay in a ceramic manger among other figurines. The only thing real in this Bethlehem setting was the straw I’d scattered around.
As I stood there taking in the shepherd sheep and donkey, the Moravian star, and angels, I became a visitor following along with the wisemen and Santa children bearing gifts. Only my hands are empty. I have nothing to give.
LORD, help me understand the meaning of Christmas.
I know at Christmas my King left His throne in Heaven disguised as a lowly human— a sort of Divine Prince-to-Pauper— to communicate God’s love for all people. But not all people believe in Him. Would God love us enough to lower Himself to reside in a weak, fleshly body? Would He willingly leave His heavenly throne, where He ruled overall, to experience hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and poverty? To be weary and sad? Would He come knowing in the end, He would experience humiliation, rejection, betrayal, unfair judgement, conviction, and the penalty of affliction, and death?
Would your god do all that?
My God, the one true God, did.
Though as Immanuel (God with us), His human body was weak and vulnerable to pain, He possessed a powerful, Divine Spirit. He willingly came to suffer in my place. He knew He would rise victorious, conquering death and the grave. And not just for Himself, but for all who believe.
Believers know God is God, but our believing isn’t what makes Him true. He is real whether we believe it, or not.
What Christmas Means to Me.
I’ve realized that God is the gift giver, not me. Christmas is God’s gift. And that Gift is Jesus Christ our LORD. I can only open that gift through faith. “And without Faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. My gift to God is to open His gift to me.
What Does Christmas mean to you?
The end of 2023 is upon us and 2024 soon begins. Did you open God’s Christmas gift to you?
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