This is the Christmas Post. I'm super psyched about it, y'all. I'm mentally cracking my knuckles and neck in preparation for this -- and I can only crack my neck mentally, because if I did it in real life my chiropractor would be on my case. Runner problems. Last night we went to a lovely Christmas Eve service at my parents' church. It's not a good to try to induce religious or holy feelings in yourself -- Christianity is about truth, not emotions. The first is eternal, the second transient. But that's for another blog post (sidebar: don't get me started on apologetics. I'll talk for DAYS). But anyway, I was sitting in church thinking about the meaning of Christmas. I'd had kind of a stressful past couple of days, so I needed to refocus. Working at a grocery store during the holidays shows what you're made of. For that matter, so does shopping at a grocery store during the holidays. Be nice to cashiers.
Obviously I need to refocus this post. I swear I'll stop sidebar-ing now.
It occurred to me how mind-numbing Christmas is. Everyone always talks about the miracle of the Incarnation and the birth of Christ, so I started mulling over why it's so amazing. I'm so grateful that I grew up in church, but I know that because I've heard the accounts of these events for my entire life, I fail to see a lot of the wonder and poignancy of them.
But Christmas... Christmas is so special. On the first Christmas, on the day Christ was born, our little world was ever-so-quietly shattered. One time I heard a quote about how God breaks in on us and on our world. Christmas was the ultimate invasion. There aren't enough words in any language, English, German, French, or otherwise, to describe even the trace of awe that's in my mind right now -- and believe you me, I'm not nearly as moved as this occasion merits. But let me try.
He created the universe. He created man. He watched us screw up a lot of things (basically everything). He knew firsthand how messed up we are. And instead of condemning us to the natural consequences of our own rebellion -- rebellion against Him, mind you -- He came to rescue us.
What even is that? Who does that?
On the first Christmas Day, the original Christmas Day, God -- the God Who stretched out the heavens and formed each star and gave us breath and created every atom, the God against Whom we had so relentlessly and very consciously rebelled -- God made Himself one of us, one of these flagrantly rebellious creatures. He decided it was a good idea to put on our messed-up skin and come to us.
And our world would never be the same. He was a little baby, but if He had broken the sound barrier, His impact would have been far less than what it was -- what it is. Like a quiet boom in the far, faint distance, His coming shattered our well-ordered rebellion. His light splintered our unutterable dark. Grace is messy. It doesn't clean up nicely. There's still stuff about me that needs a lot of help, things that weren't automatically fixed when I decided to follow Jesus. Grace is a light that shows you the truth about the way you've been living. But it's not a cold light, like the kind you find in a doctor's office. It's warm and inviting and says, "Yeah, I know you're messy. But I love you -- I love you more than anything could ever mess you up."
On Christmas Day a couple thousand years ago, our universe was shattered in a way that we couldn't even fathom. All creation was shaken to its core. It was so quiet, so imperceptible, so surreptitious -- like a quiet invasion of a seemingly impregnable city. We didn't know it -- we couldn't tell -- but we could never go back to living the way we had. Grace had come. Light had come.
It broke everything we knew, in order to make us who we were meant to be. So we could love Him, too.
Christmas, I think, isn't about the single event of the birth of a child. Christmas celebrates the beginning of redemption. It marks the beginning of our hope. It marks the time that our world was basically exploded, and we didn't have to live in fear. God invaded our little world -- and He wasn't hostile. He came for us. He still comes for us.
Christmas is God saying, "Welcome to your redemption. Welcome to your freedom. Will you take it?"
Welcome to the world that will never be the same.