In a year that has already brought so much pain and tragedy, Christmas simply won’t be “the same” for many. The hustle and bustle of the season continues, yet it’s just a little quieter somehow. Beneath our friendly greetings and jovial tones, a sad and weary expression hides. Maybe our masks just make it a bit easier to pretend.
For some, the living room couch or the dining room table will look a little emptier this year. Due to circumstances outside of our control, we won’t be able to celebrate with our loved ones in the ways we used to. Some suffer losses far deeper. Silent tears mingle with notes of joy and cheer. Old traditions bring new sorrow.
Our world looks so different. And sometimes, it just looks so dark and grim.
Yet, it was this very world, so dark and fragmented, so wearied by sickness and sadness and death, into which the Light of Christmas came. He did not come with royal fanfare, nor in a palace–even the inn had no room for Him. Instead, He came amid the darkness and dirtiness of this world–a stone manger, the drinking place of livestock, was His bed. The King of glory, the Creator of all things, was wrapped in ordinary human flesh, a helpless baby in swaddling clothes.
As He slept that first night on this earth, ewes bleated in the nearby rocky fields, their shepherds awaiting the delivery of perfect, spotless newborn lambs for the temple sacrifices. Little did they know that just beyond them a perfect lamb had indeed been born–”the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). In Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”, the Bread of Life lay in a feeding trough. Into the emptiness and darkness of our world, of our souls, light dawned and hope was born.
He left the riches of heaven to enter the dust of earth. He came not for the perfect, pristine or “righteous,” but for broken, hopeless, dirty sinners. Our filth did not turn Him away, it brought Him to us. “For TO US a child is born, TO US a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6a). To the shepherds in the fields awaiting the birth of a lamb, “A Savior is born. He is Christ the Lord,” declared the angel (Luke 2:11). Even to us, this “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10) still resounds. For Jesus, the Savior is born. The Lord Himself has come in the flesh(John 1:14) to “save His people from their sins”(Matthew 1:21).
Amidst our brokenness, suffering and sin, He is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He is the Light shining in the darkness (John 1:5). From a lowly manger to dusty road to a Roman cross to a stone tomb–for this is why He came. To live the life we could never live. To give His life as our ransom. To die for our sins, and be buried in a cold and empty tomb, not unlike the manger where He entered our world. Yet three days later, amidst that darkness too, before the break of dawn, Light again overcame, and He rose again to raise us from spiritual death to life eternal in Him.
He is the true hope and light and joy and peace and love and gift of CHRISTmas, no matter how dark it looks right now. The same good news is proclaimed, “Christ the Savior is born!” Praise the Lord! Merry Christmas! May you find true life and joy and peace in Christ the Lord!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
“In Him was life, and that light was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” -John 1:5