This Christmas is Different

Those of you who have seen me over successive Christmases know I can be a little testy this time of year. I always struggle to get in the mood for whatever reason. I think, “why do we celebrate this? Why don’t we make a bigger deal the rest of the year?” I look at all the consumerism and say, “what gives?” Well this year is different—this Christmas is different.

Why?
I think much of the credit goes to my classes at DTS. Perhaps not everyone is easily inspired by theological discussions, but as I sit here I am so much more amazed at the thought that Jesus would become human. Since last time this year, I have studied who God is, who Jesus is, who man is, and what sin is. I have just finished reading The Logic of God Incarnate, which demonstrates how despite all the craziness, all the incoherence, all the apparent contradictions that it was logically possible for God to become human. And after all that arguing I realized more than ever before just how much I had taken Jesus’ birth for granted. I never disbelieved it and I can’t say I believe it more now, but it never occurred to me just how incredible this moment in history was. The distance He traveled wasn’t from space to earth like an alien; it wasn’t even a huge moral distance that He crossed… THE INFINITE TOOK ON THE FINITE! There is no distance that can measure how far He came for us, no categories to describe it. How many centuries has man cried out for the healing touch of God? Well for some 33 years God came down and HE TOUCHED MANKIND. He came, looked men, women, and children in the eye, and He healed them! How many promises did Jesus’ birth fulfill to a people who waited so long? Yet I have never had to wait, which is probably why it’s taken me so long to see.
Last night I watched I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown with Jenny. She loves the Peanuts movies, but I find them depressing. It was great to watch a childhood Christmas movie—therapeutic, even, but still the whole movie was a string of dashed hopes and failed plans. I was especially moved by the scene where Rerun builds a snowman for Spike, the dog who will come to stay with him. Before Spike can get there the sun comes out and melts the snowman to nothing. Rerun cries and pleads with the sun, but it won’t listen, and in the end he holds only slush. And this is a kid’s movie? Unbelievable! But that scene is ME—THAT’S US!!! I can’t think of one scene in that movie that had a happy ending, and that’s life! What hopes could we have if God had not become one of us? If there was no Christmas, there would be no Good Friday and no Easter; without the birth, the death and resurrection are meaningless. I may grow to love that movie not because it makes me feel good, but because it restores my perspective.
Now that I have a better grasp of these things, I want to celebrate Christmas all week! I want to honor every tradition I’ve ever seen—anything I can do to remember what an amazing thing took place. I suppose this turn is somewhat reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. Christmas is not about the spirit of peace and goodwill, it’s the reason we can HAVE peace and goodwill. Christmas is not about selflessness, though when properly understood, it’s the necessary byproduct. Christmas is about God and man, the unbelievably stark contrast between them, and the moment when everything changed forever.

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