Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas "Fuzzies"

It is impossible to escape. The warmth and joy of Christmas as we are surrounded by friends and family, Main Street is lit up, and children everywhere eagerly await the opening of gifts on Christmas morning. I sincerely believe that the Lord intended the celebration of His birth to be a time when we would refocus on those things that are truly significant, the things that will make an eternal difference. So, while it is not my wish to dispel the Christmas "Fuzzies," as I like to call them, we also need to view them realistically, in light of the Word of God.

Seeing that Christmas is a time of joy and general happiness our culture has attempted to perpetuate and prolong that feeling. Unfortunately they can only do so by artificial means. Santa Claus has become (to my dismay) the symbol of the season. Parents do absolutely everything that they can to make this time extra special for their children, and while this isn't necessarily a bad thing deceiving them about things like Santa Claus and flying reindeer is a sin. The Lord cannot be joyful over the artificial happiness of children caused by myths and lies, instead of caused by the miraculous birth of His Son. Christ incarnate has been usurped by a mythical figure, and sadly Christians are allowing it to happen.

Even when Christian families do not acknowledge Santa Claus and the role of other myths in the celebration of Christmas we continue to glaze over the reason that the birth of Jesus Christ is so important. We speak of Jesus being born in a stable as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Have we lost the wonder of Christmas? Being laid in a feed trough after birth amidst foul smelling animals is not normal! Yet it happened in order to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah. We monotonely relate the story of the infant Jesus being worshipped by shepherds in that same stable. I think I can say with relative certainty that Jesus Christ was the first and only infant to be openly worshipped by anyone. His parents must have been astonished! The shepherds themselves must have been astonished, but the angels had come to them and so they worshipped the tiny, dirty, crying baby boy who was lying in a feed trough.

Some time later three kings traveled for months to bow before the toddler Jesus. Did he hide his face in the folds of his mother's tunic? Did he know why they held costly gifts before him? Days later he and his parents had to flee for their lives. One moment kings had bowed before him, now a King sought his life because for some reason he believed this poor little boy might usurp his throne. Really? If you think about it this story is unbelievable, and yet we read the Christmas story with no awe on our voice, no wonder on our faces! We need to wake up! King Herod ordered the slaughtering of hundreds of male babies and toddlers in order to eliminate one little boy, again fulfilling prophecy and committing infatacide in Israel.

Later this man's career would peak on a wooden cross as he died for the redemption of all mankind. The only oddity was that at the time no one knew what he was doing, or why, not even his closest followers, not even his mother. Three days later he would shock the entire world when he rose from the dead, defeating sin and eternal death. Christmas is about a baby in a manger, yes, and that part of the story is amazing in and of itself, but even more importantly Christmas is about a man hanging upon a cross, so beaten and disfigured that he was unrecognizable.

Christmas is not fuzzies, Christmas is pain; the pain of child labour, and the pain of crucifixion. Christmas is fear; the fear of Mary and Joseph as they fled Bethlehem with their Son, and the fear of the disciples as they hid in the upper room after Jesus death. Christmas is sorrow; the sorrow of countless women whose children were ripped from their arms and brutally slaughtered, and the sorrow of Mary as she witnessed her Son slipping away from her on a cross. Christmas is death; the death of countless innocent children at the hand of Herod, and the death of our Saviour on our behalf. And when all is said and done Christmas is joy and wonder as Jesus Christ rises triumphant over the grave, and redeeming us to eternal glory with him.

Only then do the "fuzzies" fit, and make sense. If we fail to understand what goes before those "fuzzies" then they are only feelings that are no reflection of the state of our hearts. We must experience the pain, sorrow, and death of Christmas before we can rest in the joy and peace of this season. I hope that the above was a compelling reminder of that. Now, have a blessed Christmas in our risen Lord!

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