Making Sense of Christmas

Birth of Jesus Matthew 2:1

Birth of Jesus Matthew 2:1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(This post is part of the ChristianWriters.com blog chain for December – The theme is Christmas sense(s))

I struggle at times making sense of Christmas. Why did the God of Creation leave Heaven and come to earth – especially as a baby?

Then, at some time in the season, God blesses me with a glimpse of clarity. Last year, as it has often been in past years, it was our church’s Christmas Cantata. The theme was “Peace” – the peace from God, peace with God, the peace of God. It was a beautiful, focused hour of worship, with Scripture, meditations, and songs celebrating the birth of Jesus. The Son of God became a man and dwelt among us – and His life, death, and resurrection redeemed us and brought us peace.

The songs spoke of that redemption and that peace: “Bring the hour that banished sadness, brought redemption down to earth” (Stars of Glory). “Hail, thou ever blessed morn. Hail, redemption’s happy dawn (See Amid the Winter Snow). “The Prince of Peace has come, rejoice and sing Noel!” (Watchman).

The reading of Isaiah 53:5 reminded us that our peace came at a high price. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” ESV

The sorrow came later in His life on earth, but, on that first Christmas night long ago, there was rejoicing because the promised and long awaited Messiah had come. And, on the night of our cantata, the voice of a child reading the story brought tears to my eyes as the truth was revealed once more:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Luke 2:8-14 KJV

Peace, as man defines it, will not occur – no matter how hard we try. However, peace, as defined by God, has been accomplished through that baby born in Bethlehem – and He is Jesus the Christ. I still can’t make sense of it all – but I do greatly rejoice in it!

“Infant holy, Infant lowly…Christ the Babe is Lord of All.” (Infant Holy, Infant Lowly)

Christmas is Past, New Years is here – What now?

           We just celebrated Christmas. We sang “Joy to the World!” as we should – joyfully! Hopefully, that joy remains, but with Christmas past, and a new year before us, what comes next? As always, we can look to Scripture to give us an example.

            In the second chapter of Luke, we read the Christmas Story – the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem; Jesus’ birth and His being laid in the manger because there was no room at the inn; the angel revealing the good news to the shepherds; the shepherds running to see, and then glorifying and praising God.

            Then, we read of Jesus being taken to the temple when he was 8 days old. Simeon and Anna were there and both recognized, by the Holy Spirit, that this baby was the Messiah.

            The next specific thing we read about is a trip Jesus’ family took to Jerusalem for the Passover. After the feast, Joseph and Mary started home and unknowingly left Jesus behind. When they discovered He wasn’t with their relatives, they hurried back to Jerusalem. They found Him in the temple, talking with the teachers.

            Mary confronted Jesus and asked why He had worried them so. Jesus replied: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”Luke 2:49 NKJV

            As we leave Christmas, 2011, behind and look forward into 2012, we can consider Jesus’ example recorded after the Christmas Story. We can “be about our Father’s business.”                

            I’m going to try something different this week. I’m not going to tell you what I think that means, but I’ll ask what you think. Please take a few seconds and leave a comment on how you think we should “be about our Father’s business” in 2012. As we get some comments (hopefully!), that should give us all more to think about.