Our Most Special Merry Christmas
Soon it will be Christmas Eve, a time of celebration that even an acute awareness of dangerous times can’t dampen because this night, above other nights, people are focused on matters that exceed the physical. They’re thinking eternal thoughts and on spiritual matters.
While home and family and caroling are common, so too are deep thoughts and quiet reflection. Thoughts about the night that Jesus was born. Often when we consider that night, we think about Jesus. How weary Mary must have been from the long ride. How worried Joseph must have been, knowing the baby was due and how taxing this long journey would be on his wife. How he must have felt at being refused a place to stay, at being reduced to the stable for protection and respite.
Consider the events that night from Mary’s perspective, from Joseph’s. And then consider them from God’s point of view. He knew Jesus would be born, knew His son’s fate. Knew He would be perfect and a powerful minister and yet abused, tortured and crucified.
When God heard Jesus’s first cry, don’t you imagine He also wept? An imperfect, mortal parent would be torn and filled with turmoil at events about to unfold. How much more would a perfect parent suffer? How much more would God, knowing all, dread and fear for His son?
It’s humbling to me that God found the courage to permit events to unfold. I’m not that brave or that strong. I would falter and fail, unable to withstand the emotional upheaval. How did God stand it?
A Christmas Eve many years ago, I thought and thought about this, perplexed. And the more I considered the question, the more angst I felt. How had God stood strong?
And then the answer occurred to me. He loves Christ unconditionally. Always. Yet He also loves us unconditionally. And unlike Christ, we are not perfect. We need Him to bridge the gap between us and God.
If God had not stood fast, He would have sacrificed the rest of us. And that, He couldn’t do. Jesus couldn’t do it, either. He chose to accept the sins (or flaws) in us all, to embrace us and our imperfections so that we might live life abundantly and be received by God.
Without both being willing, paving the path and making a way where there was no way for the rest of us, we would remain lost and separate.
But God was willing, though it undoubtedly cost Him mightily. Jesus was willing, too, at a cost far more than just His physical life. It cost Him everything except his soul. They both took the hard road, Father and Son, to make that road for us, proving that we’re as beloved as Jesus by God.
Overwhelming, isn’t it? It was to me and still is. I thought then about how much God and Jesus must love us to endure all for us. And then I had a sobering thought: How much have I appreciated the gift? What have I done with the life they provided? How much have I loved them back?
A memory flashed through my mind of the most powerful prayer I’ve ever heard. It was that of a tiny child who bowed the head, folded the hands and whispered words straight from the heart.
And that Christmas Eve, I found my heart deeply touched and myself mimicking the child, bowing my own head, folding my own hands, and uttering that same powerful prayer, mindful that neither God nor Jesus had any obligation to do what they did that night. Yet they did it anyway, for you and for me. I whispered, “Thank you.”
So at some time this Christmas Eve, pause your celebrations for a time to reflect and think about the reason for the season. Think about that night long ago in Bethlehem. And if you’re alone, hurt, afraid, ill, depressed, heartbroken or lost, remember the two who are never out of reach. Two who have loved you for all time. Unconditionally. They proved it, and will be with you always.
Let the full force of that truth seep into you. Embrace it. Cherish it. Ask yourself, How much have I loved them back?
For all trials and challenges, for all obstacles and worries, we can rest assured of two things:
One, we are never alone. And…
Two, we are deeply, unconditionally loved. Forever.
And doesn’t that fill our hearts and souls? Isn’t that our most special, “Merry Christmas.”