Monday, December 21, 2009
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Well, it's true...I am homeward bound tomorrow morning. My flight leaves at 7:00 am and I arrive in Dallas at 10:00 am. As always I am sure it will be grand to be on Texas soil again. I find it so interesting to see how much I like my comfort. I received a phone call yesterday that ruined my dream world of a "perfect" holiday. Family, Christmas trees, lights strung, holiday food, laughter, children playing, presents, Mexican and BBQ, curling up by the fire, hot chocolate, caroling, coffee with friends, a trip to San Antonio to see more loved ones and then back to my home in Louisville. This was my perception of what my Christmas break in Texas should look like before the phone call yesterday.
The things in the list above are certainly gifts that most get to enjoy during Christmas. But I have to realize that they are gifts and I cannot expect to receive them. When I do receive them the glory should be given to the Giver of all things (good and bad). The phone call yesterday was from my mother who explained to me that my grandmother is dying. Since October she has lost 40 pounds, and in the last week her eyes have sunken in and she is not responding. Her breath is shallow and her body is quickly decaying to an unrecognizable state. This will be my third grandparent to die this year if she dies before the new year. My heart aches because I love my Nanny and it will be a great loss with her death. (Please pray for my family during this time). Certainly not my idea of Christmas fun...but isn't this part of what Christmas is about?
Reality: We live in a sin stricken world. Due to the fall in the Garden of Eden the earth and all in it was cursed with death and decay. We see the effects of sin in every day life: from the common cold to burying loved ones. It was not originally supposed to be this way and since that garden incident God has had a plan of redemption. This plan is woven throughout the tapestries of the Scriptures. The entire Old Testament testifies of a Deliverer who was to come. Poetry, Prophesies, and the History of the nation of Israel spoke of God's plan to save his people. Rotten with sin you see the desperate need of a Savior. Because of sin life is far from perfect but then came the One who was perfect.
Immanuel (God with us) was his name. He was the second person of the Trinity: God who took on flesh. Born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit he was absolutely sinless. Deity in flesh. One would expect the King of the earth to be born in a palace perhaps in Jerusalem with a great birth announcement to all who were "important." Instead, Mary and Joseph made a 70+ mile journey on a donkey at nine months of pregnancy. She went into labor in the town of Bethlehem and could not find a place to stay. A stable, which was most likely a cave where visitors at the Inn kept their animals, was the place that this Deity in flesh would be born. One might think that Mary would have perks since she was giving birth to the Son of God, but there she was in a stable covered in blood wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger. And the birth announcement...it wasn't to the most "important" people, yet it was made to the outcast lowly shepherds who were watching their flocks. This infant lying in a manger was the hope of the world from the sin that brought death and decay. He came to take on the sins of the world. During his life there was still no place to lay his head. He continued to live a humble life. Christ came as a servant unlike most kings who are served daily. Mary, his mother, still had no perks, yet lived a life of hardship and was surrounded by people who refused to believe her. This Deity in flesh commanded illnesses to flee from people and practiced dominion over the waves that rebelled against sinful human rulers. Most importantly He was the only one who could withstand the wrath of God being God himself. He took on that wrath and took on death as he was cursed on the cross. The Gospel Primer puts it this way...
"Apart from Christ, I am also utterly deserving of and destined for eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, completely unable to save myself or even to make one iota of a contribution to my own salvation. However, what I could not do, God did- and in doing it, He did it all, sending His own Son into the world to die on the cross for my sin, thereby showing me unfathomable love. God loved me so much that He was willing to suffer the loss of His Son, and even more amazingly, He was willing to allow His Son to suffer the loss of Him at the cross. Jesus loved me so much that He was willing to lay down His life for me. No one could ever love me more or better than Jesus. On the third day after Jesus' death, God raised Him from the dead, thereby announcing that his death was completely sufficient to atone for my every sin that I have or will commit throughout my lifetime. God then exalted Christ to His own right hand, where Christ now reigns from on high, granting salvation and forgiveness to all who call on Him by faith."
Christmas is not about the list I previously stated, though those are gifts from the Giver that can be enjoyed. Christmas is about the greatest gift of redemption that began with a humble birth in Bethlehem. We live in a world of death and decay, yet there is now a great hope and salvation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Through repentance and faith, those who are in Christ must remember why we have reason to celebrate this Christmas no matter what circumastance we find ourselves in. The Giver of all good things (including trials and hardships) demands our allegiance and reverence. All praise, glory and honor be to the God of our salvation.
A Joyful Christmas to you and yours!