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Celebrating Christmas

Celebrating at Christmas is both a normal and extremely strange practice. My wife Jenn and I had all three of our kids during the Advent season. That provided us with some interesting insight as it reintroduced us to the normalcy and absurdity of the whole Christmas story. We celebrated with friends and family when our sons arrived safe and sound. People brought us food and presents and doted on the boys. We got together and we dreamt about what the boys might turn out to be like. We weren’t shocked when they screamed or needed to eat. When we hear about the birth of a baby, we expect the baby to be, well, a baby.

The birth story of Jesus is found in Luke 2:1-21.

There is something inherently normal about celebrating the birth of a child. The strangeness comes in what we sometimes turn Jesus’ birth story into. I’m sure Mary was in agony in childbirth. She was an unwed teenage mother in a foreign place. Jesus was probably messy and screaming like a banshee, not the silent night “little Lord Jesus no crying he makes” we sing about. We have the animals and angels in the stable quietly listening and keeping watch over things.

But Jesus was a real baby.

I think we rob the story of its real power when we sanitize Jesus of his humanity. Christmas is when we celebrate God lowering himself to our level.

Paul wrote of it in Philippians 2:5-11, “5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!  9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In coming to earth as a human, Jesus emptied himself of his glory and came to us on our level. He came and was born and lived life just as we do to show us what life can really be like when lived for God. It’s God coming down to us on our level, wherever we’re at, and telling us that he loves us, wants to be with us, and came to save us just like he promised he always would. Jesus came to take us from death to life, from the destruction of sin that causes brokenness and separation, and to prepare us for a life to come in the future.

Christmas is the coming of God to live and breathe and be as a human - the fullness of God in the fullness of humanity. God didn’t try to cheat the system in giving Jesus special God powers so he wouldn’t cry or need food or would know everything from day one. God came to us in Jesus be with us and lead us back to God and God did it by walking directly in our shoes in full humanity, showing us how to live life and be in relationship with God.

In the birth of this baby, we see and celebrate the reconciliation of God and humanity. The birth of Jesus is just as important to our salvation and hope as the cross and the empty grave. In Jesus, we see the full divine revelation that God loves us, and that the time of decay and destruction brought about by sin is drawing to a close, all through the birth of a baby. Jesus came to change life for everyone and to start the insurrection of the Kingdom of God into our world to bring things back to the way they were supposed to be - bringing the fulfillment of God’s promises of rescue, hope, deliverance, and peace.

The beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth is revealed in Jesus and his humble beginnings we celebrate at Christmas - a kingdom of forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and peace. Christmas is only about Christ as he is revealed to people by the Holy Spirit and the message being shared by his people. Unless we, his followers, are faithful in preaching and showing Jesus - God’s revelation of himself to us - he will not be a part of people’s lives or Christmas. God revealed himself to us in Jesus, so this Christmas season, go and reveal Jesus through your life.

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