Unwrapping the Good News of Christmas2
If I’m honest, I am a little bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas time. Maybe it's the cold, maybe it's the rampant consumerism and the need to show up with pristine gifts (mine can never quite look pristine), or maybe it's the too-soon-every-year-and-never-ending Christmas music everywhere. I say this in jest, but really, I have struggled the last few years to understand why we as a culture have taken this season and made it all-consuming. Why are we so obsessed?
I know why our culture runs with it. It’s happy! It’s joyful! It’s memories being made, a season of kindness and blessing! A time to give gifts, throw parties, dress up, and enjoy food and drink–it’s all so fun and full. It’s almost like it gives us something to think about besides the hard parts of winter and our normal, boring, difficult lives. We have the chance to make our sad lives happier.
But as believers, we know that Christmas time is more wonderful, more joyful, more hope-filled than bright lights and well-decorated trees. It’s even more than general kindness and goodwill to men. Christmas means that we recognize and remember that our God has made a way and is making all things new. We celebrate the baby, the Son of God. We call it out year after year: God came to us. He is who He says He is; He is Emmanuel. And year after year, we proclaim joy to the world, for our Lord has come.
It helps me to remember that this good news never gets old. I think about the shepherds as they watched over their sheep. Luke 2 describes the scene, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:8-9) They were watching out and protecting their sheep. This was their whole job at night, to make sure all was well. Well, weren’t they surprised! They were looking out, but they did not expect the glory of the Lord to be shining around them. That had to be shocking. But the next verse gives them (and us) hope: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’ ” (Luke 2:10-11)
The angel brought the good news– the good news that does not have a time limit or capacity of how good it can and will be. What could be better than the news that our Messiah is here! Now our new lives can begin– what was broken is made whole and we who were separated from our Holy God by our own sin are now reunited forever with Him, through the righteousness of this precious Savior. God is with us, and He will never leave, through the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit. Again and again, year after year, we preach and proclaim and tell the story and whisper the reminder: our God has made a way and is making all things new. We wear the story out because the news here is that good. It is life-changing! And that is where this joy comes from. We cannot help but be filled up to the brim with joy because of this good news.
I can get behind that! Our Lord has come, He has lived among us. He died a brutal death for you, me, and every other person who has lived and will live. Then, to top it all off, he slammed death into the ground and defeated it forever by coming back to life. Our Savior is the one who saves us from our broken selves and our broken world. He has redeemed us personally and charges us to work with Him as He redeems the world. Let us say it to each other again and again: we celebrate in all these beautiful ways because we are a people now marked by this joy and hope from our savior. Let us wear out this good news, repeating it over and over to each other since we are people who forget so immediately why we are doing this in the first place. I am reminded of the lyrics from “Come, Though Long Expected Jesus”:
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus / Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us / Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation / Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation / Joy of every longing heart.
We as Christians lean into this season because it represents radical life change for all of us. The repercussions of our first Christmas have changed our world and our lives! May this Christmas season remind you of the freedom from fears and sins, the rest we have in Christ, the relief of hope, and the joy that we each receive in our lives. May we remember how our Savior’s birth invites us into new life with Him and wear out the good news by repeating it over and over and over again. News like this will truly never get old.
More in Life at Westminster
February 29, 2024Exploring the Sanctity of Life
February 29, 2024Home Sweet Home: Establishing Rhythms for Our Loud & Imperfect Homes
January 5, 2024Reflections on the New Year