Christmas can seem like a mystery in so many ways. Here we have a tradition that many people like to follow based on a belief that fewer people who follow the tradition actually believe. Yet, the magic seems to exist to some extent even when the belief is not always there. Why is that? Some may argue that it’s the decorations—the twinkling lights …the Christmas tree; others may say its the gifting but can objects bring this much happiness? Surely we can decorate our homes any time of year. Surely we can buy ourselves a gift which can make us feel happy. Yet somehow it is not the same as it is at Christmas time. Why is that? What is it about Christmas that makes the happiness feel something more…more rosier, warmer, deeper, thoughtful? We may not know or understand but something deep within us knows even when our conscious mind does not.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Think about this for a moment: What is the greatest gift you ever gave someone? I don’t mean the most expensive but the greatest? Personally, I LOVE giving gifts. It is one of my favourite ways to celebrate Christmas. I love to choose special gifts for people and I get pretty excited when I think I have found the perfect gift. However, when I think about this question, my answers would have to be things that hardly cost me anything. For instance, I taught two of my children how to read. One of them couldn’t focus for very long and the other often saw letters and words backwards and couldn’t follow along the line of a sentence. I am so happy that they grew up loving books! Other gifts I have given is hospitality, prayer, a hug, a smile, home baked cookies, a visit to someone who was lonely, some free babysitting and a flower. I’m not bragging. These are simple gifts that we all give to each other from time to time. These types of gifts can all be summed up simply as this: We are giving ourselves. Isn’t that the greatest gift we can give? Isn’t it even more wonderful that God gave us Himself through the birth of His son Jesus? Oh but this wonderful gift from God is so much more than our humanly gifts we give. His smile is MORE than ours. His embrace MORE than our embrace. He loves us but it is MORE than how we love. His love is eternal and never falters or fades.
The name Jesus means “the Lord saves”. It is the greatest , most mysterious thing that we could ever imagine. The creator of all, a holy and almighty being made Himself to be as humble as we are, even as far as allowing Himself to be birthed from a human woman, one of his creation. He did this because He is love and His love is for us. He wanted to save us from sin. He does so by giving Himself to us. Why? The first reason is because sin hurts us. He wanted us to stop hurting ourselves and each other. However, when we allow ourselves to open up to God’s spirit, we feel the need to make retribution. It suddenly becomes clear to us that we need to make things right. God and us working together slays our sins. I am pretty sure God doesn’t want us to go on feeling guilty either because guilt keeps us from experiencing God in our lives more fully. That brings me to the second reason why God wanted to save us from sin. The opposite of sin is righteousness. Righteousness means being in a right relationship with God. What that means is we can have a better, more fulfilling relationship with God. What that therefore means is that God humbled Himself and became one of us because He wanted a better relationship with us. THAT’S how much He loves us! That is the real message behind Christmas. So whether we have been aware of it or consciously thinking about it, I believe somehow at Christmas time our spirit knows and the happiness which is rosier and deeper actually has another name–JOY.