When I think of the birth of Jesus, the representative image in my mind’s eye is always the flash of light that comes forth from the cave in the movie The Nativity Story, signaling the very first breath of the Christ child. Every time I see this film, I wait with eyes glued to the screen for that moment, the sign of beautiful incarnation, the mystery and magic, the unthinkable and incredible – when God took the form of man, humbling Himself to 6 or 7 pounds, naked but not ashamed. The glory of the Cosmos cannot compare to that flash, that split-second in time when all Time changed. The Heavens were not surprised – this was the plan from the beginning – but we were. We are. We should always be – surprised. That God became small, that He wore our weaknesses so that we could wear His strength.
Over the next few weeks, many of us will pack our calendars and to-do lists with Christmas: we’ll decorate and send cards and hunt for that perfect gift; we’ll bake to feed an army and then feast with friends and family until our sides hurt; we’ll look for ways to bless the less fortunate with gifts or feasts of their own; we’ll read Christmas books with our kids and sing songs about Jesus and songs about Rudolph. For many of us, it will be a very blessed – but also very busy – season.
Knowing this, we’d like to encourage you to enter these next few weeks with joy and expectation – but most of all, with the story of Christ at the center of all of your thoughts and activities. Let us not let that flash of wonderful Light, heralding the Hope of our Salvation, be buried in twinkle lights and men in red suits, Home Alone and hay rides, office parties and family time, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. May all these wonderful things step into the wings, a supporting cast only, for the awesome appearance of the One and Only Begotten Son of God.
And for those of us who will find these next few weeks to be the hardest ones of the year, we likewise invite you to keep your eyes on Jesus, who also knew what it was to suffer. He is the only hope in a world that tries to sell us every other kind of fix, and His light shines brightly in every kind of darkness.
Over the next few weeks, Matthew and I will be sharing daily thoughts about the Nativity on this blog. We pray they will help you as you look for Christ in your everyday walk.