Sunday, December 2, 2012

My New Christmas

When I was a little girl, I used to make little things into special things in my mind. I would get all sentimental and romantic in an Anne of Green Gables kind of way, and somehow, through my imagination, little things like arranging the nativity set became a magical and ceremonial happening.
Few things really are that magical, of course, even celebrating Christmas. Except, it is. This year, even though today is only the second day of December, Christmas is already magical.
And this is why.
Have you even experienced the birth of a child, reader?
I don't mean the awful video from high school sex ed that made you swear never ever to have a child. I mean really. Have you given birth yourself, or seen your wife give birth? A best friend or sister, perhaps? Or as a medical student, on your first delivery?
If you haven't, stick with me anyway. But if you have, you know what I mean. Because I now have, Christmas is a much fuller and more beautiful celebration to me.
The real miracle of Christmas reader, is not that a virgin had a child. The real miracle is that the child was God. The Almighty, the Highest of all High Kings, the Maker of heaven and earth, the eternal, unchanging and perfect God shrunk himself, condescended not only to being a human, but being born a baby human.
The miracle is that He loved us enough, while we were still His enemies, to humble Himself, limit Himself to the lowest form of earth-bound man. He would experience physical pain, physical hunger, emotional heartbreak, hormonal changes, puberty, disappointment ... but first, He had to learn how to nurse. He had to learn how to lift His head, to roll over, to use His hands. He had to learn to crawl and stand and walk and speak.
God. God had to learn all those things. Because He came to earth as a baby.
Singing Christmas hymns in church this morning and holding my crowing, smiling boy, I was suddenly overwhelmed.
The birth of any baby is a miracle. The rush of emotion that steals your breath and brings unexpected tears to your eyes, because even though you knew in your head that that round lump of belly hid a human child, actually seeing and holding that child somehow still is incredibly amazing. It's almost a surprise.
But Jesus -- He was not only a miracle because He was a baby human with tiny, wrinkled toes and a rooting reflex. He was a miracle because He was a baby human and God with tiny, wrinkled toes and a rooting reflex.
And because He was God, because He was sinless, because He loves us more than we understand, because He died as a human and now is raised in a new body that we will one day experience, because all these beautiful, complicated and simple gospel truths, Christmas is magical.
Look at the next baby you see. Imagine knowing that tiny human is God, and would redeem your soul from sin and death.
That truly is a miracle, and worth celebrating.

Joy to those who long to see thee,
Dayspring from on high appear
Come thou promised rod of Jesse,
Of thy birth we long to hear
O'er the hills the angels singing,
News, glad tidings of a birth
Go to him, your praises ringing,
Christ the Lord has come to earth

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all