More Than a Traditional Christmas
Do you have any special traditions you do as a family for Christmas? Maybe matching pajamas, cocoa and books by the tree on Christmas eve, baking cookies, sleepovers and movies. All these special things are meant to further bolster the "special-ness", the "magic" of Christmas for friends and families.
I was browsing for a Christmas station to listen to, and the title, "Traditional Christmas Songs" came up as one that might be an "option". These songs included time-honored favorites such as "O, Holy Night", "Joy to the World", and "Away in a Manger". While I certainly love these songs, I couldn't help but feel a bit perplexed that we have to organize the truth of Christmas into "traditional", "contemporary", "modern", and "fun".
The message of Christmas should be the same for all ages- and, indeed, it is. The message of Christmas, as heralded by the angel to the shepherds, is still the same: "Fear not! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2: 10-11). As I was reading through the devotional insight on this passage by Christopher Ash, he explained that when the angel brought this news to the Shepherds, this news was presented as "gospel"; and, during these times, whenever a herald would bring news, the news typically involved the introduction of a new government. The angel is literally telling the shepherds a new ruler has come! Then, the host of angels join the angel in praising and giving glory to God before returning to heaven.
In those following moments, the shepherds, of course, went to find the Babe, but, I can't help but wonder that perhaps they may have been perplexed, because instead of traditional ruler (born in a palace, with a fancy bed, and with much pomp), this Baby was born to a poor family and laid in a manger. This "sign" from the angel surely seems strange, anti-climactic even.
Why would a King be born in a manger?
And, why is this still relevant to us today?
This King was born, in obscurity and in poverty for you and me.
He laid aside all that we imagine to be "kingly", and "made himself of no reputation" (Philippians 2).
This un-traditional King arrived in an un-traditional way to live an un-traditional reign to redeem a people called to then live un-traditional lives.
Because the amazing and baffling part in Jesus coming to earth is that he did it for me. He came as nothing because I had nothing and could/can do nothing. He possessed nothing because without him, I have nothing to possess with which I can please God. He succeeded as nothing because success could not be measured in earthly fame or riches. And, in this, he showed you and me what we can become.
We can become something because of Jesus: a redeemed, righteous child of God.
We can possess everything because of Jesus: "having nothing yet possessing everything" (II Corinthians 6:10).
We can become rich: "that you through his poverty might be made rich"(II Corinthians 8:9).
And none of these things have anything to do with tradition or routine or "that's just the way it is". Instead, they have everything to do with the glory of God.
Remember, after the first angel came to the shepherds and told them about the Savior, a whole host joined that angel and they all sang, "Glory to God in the highest , and on earth, peace, among those with whom he is pleased" (Luke 2:14). This message is two-fold. First, the angels were declaring that the glory which is "the outward shining of [God's] inward being" had been manifested here on earth. How? In this Baby. In this Baby, "the invisible God has made himself visible" (Ash, 102). Amazing!
And, secondly, the angels declare that this Baby will bring peace. Ah! Such a beautiful word and so needed in this days... but, what was the peace this un-traditional Baby King would bring?
Peace-not in transitory terms- but peace for the long-term. Peace between God and men. Peace between men and men. And, this would be made possible through the offering of himself, this King of Kings, on a cruel wooden cross. Peace through sacrifice. Peace through death.
All this would then bring about the glory of God. Because that was the plan from the very beginning. God chose his people. He chose them from the very beginning, after sin first entered the world. He promised a Redeemer. He promised a way for men to be reconciled to himself. And, he did it through the "sovereign kindness" in sending his beloved Son. Indeed, he invites all who will come to him to taste of his peace. This is what it means to have his favor. In accepting this untraditional Baby as King, as the one who would bring peace, you acknowledge that there is no other way to see, to taste, to feel, to know the glory of God.
This is Christmas. The glory of God manifested in a poor Baby, who then lived a very "un-traditional" life and died a despicable, "un-traditional" death, to then bring about the peace for which the world had so longed.
And, that peace is still available for any who will come and worship the Baby, who will one day return as "King of kings and Lord of lords".
And, in that reconciliation of peace between God and man, we who believe have been called to live very un-traditional lives. Instead of living out tradition or routine or
'that's just the way it is", we are called to live as "lights shining in a dark place", to be light and salt, and to be images of the Savior. There's nothing "traditional" about it.
It's all very radical. Very thrilling. Very baffling to the world.
He is more than a traditional Baby. He is King. He has brought peace. He has brought light. He has brought hope.
How are you living out this radical redemption? How are you living out the glories of God? Are you shining the light of his peace to this dark and sin-cursed world? Or has Christmas and its astonishing realities become "traditional" to you?
Please take some time in your busy schedule to listen to these two songs I will share below. I would encourage you to share one of them, share this blog link, share something of the good news of Jesus with the darkened world around you.
Be a light for the glorious gospel of the Savior! He is the King! And his new government brings peace! "O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!"