We celebrated with new friends last night here in ATX(Austin). It is our first Christmas here in TX and we hosted a small gathering of around 20 people and had a great time. Prime Rib was succulent and we also fried a turkey(to be expected it's TX) but a Christmas tradition at parties since our marriage, we served Grinch Punch. To this day I don't know exactly what's in it. It has involved sherbet ice cream, Sprite and green Hawaiian Punch, other times it has included different things, delicious but a mystery. Not unlike our western interpretation of the events and circumstances that occasioned our Savior's birth. I am speaking of how we see and understand Christmas.
Last week our associate pastor at church conducted a Christmas quiz of sorts concerning the events of the narrative and it was startling how much we believe is just made up. I remember in Hermeneutics class ($2 word for biblical interpretation) while in bible college, my professor railed how we see the nativity scene as silly because in Eastern culture there is no way a woman in Mary's pregnant condition would have traveled alone. The culture would have required she traveled with midwives to aid her in the birth but on my lawn right now, there is a silhouette of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It would have been a team of people in reality but our editorial license has afforded us to imagine the events a bit differently. I'm not trying to ruin Christmas, but I have encountered people who do get lost in the accuracies or inaccuracies of this season and miss the bigger point. OK maybe He wasn't born on December 25 (probably more like Summer) but He was born. He entered time and space, leaving paradise and took on our experience in every sense of the idea, to rescue us. Immanuel, God with us. He "dwelt" among us in John's gospel (JN 1:14) means He tabernacled, pitched tent in the Greek, not just a casual visit, incarnation. It was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross(Heb12:2), and guess what??? You and I are the joy!!! Crazy right?!!! An unreal gesture of what we mean to Him and the lengths to which He has gone to recover us for fellowship. He is our reason for the season but we are His. A couple of thoughts on the first Christmas
1) It wasn't comfortable
Jesus' birth was not easy or comfortable. Having to be born in a feeding trough because there was no guest room prepared isn't easy or pleasant smelling for that matter any way you slice it.
2) It wasn't convenient
No Uber service to get to the hospital. I believe that Jesus traveled farther (eternity to time and space) but 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem in that day is rough.
3) It happened.
We still measure time as we have it by His birth and death.
Is this season is hard for you? The loss of loved ones can cast a cloud over the holidays like nothing else or other circumstances may rob you of the joy you feel required to have at this time. It's ok. There were no chestnuts roasting on an open fire for Him either but don't lose what this time signifies. You are worth it to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Just as you are, weird Christmas traditions and all.(for some it's not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Plaza, and yes Die Hard is a Christmas movie!) You are wildly loved, and until that truth finds it's place in your heart there will never be enough tinsel to bring Christmas cheer. Let every heart prepare Him room!