Today around the globe millions of Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Christmas Season. We will do so with services of worship, singing of carols, the sharing of word and table, in dozens of language, in numerous liturgies, all proclaiming the birth of Jesus.
So why is the birth of Jesus a big deal? I mean, isn’t his death and resurrection the cornerstone of our faith? Isn’t it Christ’s gift to us through the cross that is the very center of Christianity? Yes, but Christmas reminds us why Jesus’ gift of giving his life for us matters so very much. It is Christmas that reminds us that Jesus’ birth is about God being with us, God being in the flesh, God being present here and now.
The incarnation is one of those bits of theology than confuses people. We contend as Christians that Jesus is both human and divine. It sounds like an esoteric truth, something that does not matter to our every day faith. But in truth it really does matter a great deal to our understanding of how God is present with us how God does God’s work among us, and how God through Christ redeems us.
Because Jesus is human and life the life of a human being here on this earth he has walked and lived among us. He is “Emmanuel, God with us.” It means that God is not far off and inaccessible but instead is near to us. It means that God understand loss, sickness, death, pain, sorry, joy, hunger, poverty, and plenty. Jesus has, so to speak, walked in our shoes.
But also because Jesus is the very son of God, as Jesus said, “one with the Father” Jesus also can offer us the gift of God’s grace which is always there for us, always reaching out to us, always pursuing us, always seeking us always wanting to redeem us.
Christmas is so wonderful because it reminds us that God isn’t just up there in heaven, God is here among us walking with us, traveling with us, supporting us, sustaining us. God wants to be there not just at the beginning of our faith journey and not just at the end of life’s journey, but with us every day and every step.
Too often we focus on the Jesus of the afterlife or the Jesus of the “end times” all in the future. Andre Crouch, gospel singer and composer, wrote, “If heaven was never promised to me, even God’s promise to live eternally, it has been worth just having the Lord in my life. Because living in a world of darkness he brought me the light.”
What we celebrate on this holy evening is that we who live in the darkness have seen the light of God through Jesus Christ. It is a light that guides us, it is a light that lives with us and in us, it is a light that warms us on a cold bleak night, and it is the light we hope against hope to share with love and grace with others.
May you have a blessed and holy experience of the presence of Christ as we celebrate Christ’s birth in this holy season!