Twas the Night Before Christmas

12:01 PMHeather

My fervent prayer this Christmas season has been to truly embrace Advent.  To prepare my heart with meaningful reflections about the Christmas story.  To allow my mind to marinade in the truth of Christmas.  To understand in greater depth what the Christmas story means and to purposely pause there.  Trying to shut out the chaos and hustle and bustle and commercialism.  And to intentionally enjoy this season.  

So here I am.  The night before Christmas.  And I woke up today with a prayer on my lips to find adequate words as I blogged.  To be able to somehow articulate the true wonder and awe of this holiday.  To offer hope to the hurting.  Because if you've been reading this blog series during Advent, it seems a repeated theme to touch on the dark and hard places where we tend to get stuck and to see the hope that Christmas really is.  To grasp that Christmas doesn't mean a perfect tree and wonderful gifts and a Pinterest worthy holiday meal.  Christmas isn't the glitz and glamour of beautiful decorations or even family gatherings with perfect unity and harmony. 

Sure, those things would be nice.

But the truth of Christmas is the remarkable story of how a perfect and flawless Son of God, enjoying beautiful communion with his Heavenly Father dared to do the unthinkable.

Christmas is not about our perfect ideas being executed flawlessly.

Christmas is about a flawless Savior daring to come into our dark and sinful world for the purpose of being executed.

Christmas is about the unfathomable idea of a Father's love who would dream of such a plan.

Perfect light entering the darkness of humanity.

O come, o come, Immanuel...and ransom captive Israel.

God with us.  God coming near to assure us we are never alone. Because he is with us.

And he paid the highest ransom ever asked for a people captive to our sorry sinful mess.  

Christmas is not about the presents under the tree.  We often hear this statement.  But really think about it.

Christmas is about a God who is completely present with us.  In every dismal situation.  In every dark place where our mind and emotions tend to go.  In every long night and hopeless circumstance.  We have Immanuel.  We have the God of the Universe with us.  Because he came to walk this earth for us.

And he did so not begrudgingly.  But he was "pleased as man with men to dwell."

Can you even fathom?  Imagine.  He resided in perfect communion with the Trinity...the loving community of Father, Son and Spirit.  In heavenly places.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  Flawless.  More wonderful than we can ever imagine and beyond anything we can even describe.

And he left it all.  

He chose to come to a messed up, dirty, filthy world and become impoverished and separated from his Father.  For a people who don't even get him.  Because even the day set aside to celebrate his incredible entry into this mess has become clouded by Christmas trees and endless shopping and frustration and frenzy.

Happy Birthday, Jesus.  

It's not about him at all.  We've made it all about us instead.  All about our gifts and our wish lists.  All about our menus and celebrations and family tensions and running around like crazy people. All about a guy in a red suit and trying to create some holiday magic.

When the true meaning of this day is about a mind blowing truth that blows any magic right outta the water.

That God had a plan.  Motivated by his love, fueled by his grace, he dared to send his son from his side in the heavenly realm into a sorry world so that he could love us to death.  

The darling of heaven constrained in the flesh of man as a helpless baby.

Christmas is about that miracle.  Which says so much to us.  If we can only take time to pause and consider.  

And as I've asked for adequate words this morning...this day before Christmas...I was led to Isaiah 9.  The familiar passage about a child being born to us and what his name shall be.

Except I've never read verse 1 of that chapter.

If you want to know what Christmas really means, here it is.  In your Heavenly Father's own words to you, his beloved child.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past, he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.
Isaiah 9:1

If you want to know the true meaning of Christmas, this is it.  There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.  Because hope has come.  Hope was sent.  To abolish the law and the need to be bound by it.  To destroy our strivings toward God because he dared to come to us.  To vanquish our gloom and our distress.  To be the light that dispels even our darkest days.

Oh, yes, in the past, he humbled the lands.  He allowed his people to be taken captive when they dared to disobey.  As they turned back to him, he freed them.  Over and over.  Just read the Old Testament.

But in the future, Isaiah says, he will honor Galilee.  Little humble Galilee.  A nobody really, on the world map.  Honored by God himself.  And Galilee of the GENTILES.  

An honor poured out to the unknown and the outcasts and those who previously laid no claim to the God of the Israelites.

NOW, granted an honor.  All invited in.  All welcomed.  An honor for all who will claim it.  

Reading along in Isaiah 9:2-7, this is what Christmas means.  

Christmas means a great light and a new dawn for those who have walked in darkness and in the shadow of death (verse 2).

Christmas means a land enlarged and joy increased.  Christmas means rejoicing because God grants a harvest and offers a plunder from the places of captivity...we will not come out of our hard seasons empty handed (verse 3).

Christmas means the most dreaded enemy is defeated.  For good. And the yokes and chains that burden us are shattered and every oppression we face is blown to smithereens (verse 4).

Christmas means we can burn our battle garments and boots because we need not struggle or fight ever again...the victory is eternally secured (verse 5).  

Christmas means that in the name of Jesus, nothing can stand against us.  Christmas means that even our worst days here will disappear because we have a never ending happy ending. Christmas means that hope we can hang on to, even when we don't see the good that God will do in whatever might have been intended for evil.

Christmas means that God's Son was given to us.  Freely. Completely.  Offered for your behalf.  That child was born.  And no matter the evil that seems to preside in the world, the government is actually on the shoulders of the Great I Am (verse 6).  He rules and reigns and he is in control.  No matter how things seem, there is a sovereign plan for our eternal good.

And Christmas means that our Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.  
The one who can direct us and comfort us and advise us and train us. The one whom we can run to with every tiny problem and dilemma.  The one whose throne of mercy we can approach boldly with every last struggle.

Christmas means we have a Mighty God.  With whom nothing is impossible.  Whose specialty is doing what has never been done because he is always doing a new thing.  The one who has overcome the world.  The one who has defeated sin and death for good.  The one whose power is offered within us through the Holy Spirit.  To equip us for every good work that we were created to do.

Christmas means we have an Everlasting Father.  We are no longer slaves to law and ritual but we are called children of God because of the love he dared to lavish upon us through the giving of his son.  We have an Abba Father.  A "Daddy" who rejoices over us with singing and who delights in us and who quiets us with his love. 

Christmas means we have a Prince of Peace.  One whom we can petition with thanksgiving through prayer and he will grant a peace that surpasses understanding.  In our most chaotic and horrendous storm, we have a Jesus who can calm it all.  We have a Jesus who will ride out the worst of winds and waves and whose presence is a source of peace in all circumstances.  We have a Jesus who says he will keep us in perfect peace when our minds are steadfast on him because we trust him.

Christmas means that our God's reign and sovereignty and victory and peace will endlessly increase.  There is no end.  There is nothing that can tip the scales.  Because the increase of his government and peace will have no end. 

Christmas means that even the most celebrated king of mankind's history has a surpassing successor.  Because Jesus has taken the throne.  And he has sat down on that throne because the work was done.  It was finished.  He came as a baby and did what his father willed him to do.  And he did it for our good.

Christmas means that Jesus establishes and upholds us, far beyond this earth's struggles, but forever and ever.

Christmas means that we can bet on all these promises.  We can throw all our weight behind them and stand firm on them.  Because the Lord Almighty was zealous to accomplish all this for you.

Christmas means our soul can find its worth.  Christmas means that even in our weariness, we can rejoice.  Christmas means that we have a thrill of hope because a baby was born.  Christmas means that we can hang all our biggest burdens on the Holy Night when Christ was born.  And he will handle them and hold us.  

Christmas means that the glorious plan to make us his own was accomplished.  And we can look at the dark sky of our circumstances and our burdens and our wrestling and know this.

A light has pierced the darkness.  

And the Great I Am says that nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.

In the past, we have been humbled.

But Jesus came. 

And now we have been honored.

With a Savior for every single one us who walks through every day with us.  

Leading us to an eternity.  A never ending happy ending.  That was planned from day one.  

The major plot line was foretold for generations.  And a baby born and wrapped in swaddling clothes is the One who invites us into his story. 

For all of history. Hallelujah!  Indeed.  He shall reign forever and ever.

Merry Christmas.  

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