Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's Beginning to Feel Like Christmas

I've been waiting for that magical moment when I start to get that Christmas Spirit. I think that last night was the beginning. Our church choir, along with the choir from the First Baptist Church of Ozark, presented An Evening in December. Last night, Hopedale was the host for the Christmas concert, tonight First Ozark will host the concert. The combined choirs sounded magnificent! I really enjoyed the accompanying videos, the wonderful solos and the sharing of the telling of the Christmas story in the music of the season.

The promise; the story of Christmas is truly a mind boggling story. I think that it is important to remember that the story of Christmas is as much a story of the cross and resurrection (Easter) as it is a story of the manger and the birth of the Christ-child. As a matter of fact, we so often talk of the great sacrifice that Jesus made at the cross and I truly believe that the sacrifice that was made at the manger, the sacrifice made at Christmas was a greater sacrifice.

We see the sacrifice of the crucifixion through the pain and suffering of human emotion, of human feelings. In the manger we see a baby and hear the stories of angels, shepherds and wise men. We feel peace and joy and celebrate the birth of the Savior and again we look through the eyes, through the heart of our humanness.

It is only when we try to see the promise of God through the eyes of God that we are able to see the great Gift, the great sacrifice of the manger. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes that Jesus set aside the very characteristics that made Him God to become man. We think of God as all knowing (omniscient), all powerful (omnipotent), and able to be everywhere (omnipresent). Jesus gave all of that up to humble Himself and become human. Think of it--this once omnipresent being now finds Himself bound in the flesh of humanity. Though He was once omniscient, the Bible says that as a boy He grew in wisdom and stature before God and man. And the very God that spoke the universe into existence, is now as helpless and as powerless as a new born baby. It is hard to grasp the idea that even though He was still God, he surrendered His godly characteristics to become man and this once all powerful being now has to cry if he gets hungry and wants to be fed, if he's cold and wants to be held or if he's soiled himself and needs to be changed. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time thinking of God with a poopy diaper. Talk about humility!

For thirty some years He was bound by His humanity. He was tempted by the lusts of the flesh and yet He lived a sinless life. He was perfect and pure and became the sacrificial lamb. He took on the sin of mankind to pay the price and to offer us hope; to offer us salvation.

I have to ask--Why do you celebrate Christmas?
I'm not asking about another winter holiday...I'm asking about Christmas. Do you celebrate it with gifts? Do you hang stockings by the fireplace and wait for Santa? I hope so. We do at our house (although not so much with the Santa these days). But at some point this holiday season, I want to encourage you to look at the name--CHRISTmas. Yeah, Christ is in there for a reason. Christmas is a celebration of the promise of God being fulfilled in that baby, born of a Virgin, lying in a manger. The proclamation of heaven is for peace on earth to men of goodwill.

It is my hope and prayer that you, dear reader, find hope, peace and joy this Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that you will, with me, celebrate the Promise of God fulfilled in Jesus.

It's Beginning to Feel Like Christmas!



Amanda said...

Hope, Peace and Joy....these are the same things that I pray for. Thanks for spreading some CHRISTmas cheer.

Kevin said...

We as common people can't begin to imagine what a sacrifice that really was. Take away a few of our worldly posessions and our lives is turned upsidedown. Our shallowness is so deep.

John said...

"Our shallowness is so deep."

What a great comment, Kevin.

Kevin said...

John...please excuse the typo in my previous comment. :(

I was talking about your thoughts with my wife and daughter tonight. My wife still feels that Christ being nailed to the cross with the weight of all our sins upon him and the Father turning from him in those final moments still can't compare to the sacrifice Christ made to come and live in our world. It made for an intersting discussion and I thank you for the topic.

Your post got me to realize that little to no emphasis is put on Christ's sacrifice to humble himself as one of us. Thank you.

What facility do you work at? I'm at zmp. I became eligible this past spring but I plan to remain for another 5 years. I've got a little one to get through college.

John said...

I appreciate your comments. I'm at SGF and have 4 yrs, 24 days to be eligible but will have a daughter in college at the time (hopefully). Son Aaron is a college freshman and Hannah a high school sophomore.

Feel free to drop an e-mail or call me sometime.