Christmas has become quite small in our culture.
Nowdays Christmas seems to be very focussed on people re-connecting, families re-connecting, sharing possessions, and of course, giving gifts. These are not bad things. It is a good thing to have a reason for an effort to be made to re-connect with family and friends in some way – sharing a meal, sending a card, giving a gift, receiving a gift, making a call.
And even in our ever-secularising culture in the West, we still seem to have a little bit of a grander vision of Christmas as we belt out songs and words about “peace on earth, goodwill to all people” at carols by candlelight events all around the country and the world, and as we stroll through the aisles of the shops doing that Christmas shopping!
Of course, for most people, this hope of peace for all people is devoid of any connection with the God of the bible. Some still see the strong link between our hopes for peace and God’s plan and power in the world, but most gave that up somewhere along the line.
So, we are left with a strange celebration indeed these days – lots of lights and gifts and effort to reconnect with each other and a hint of a global but pretty human perspective “world peace” and that is about it. God is not really in the Christmas picture for most these days – not the God who has spoken in the Bible and his one and only Son in that manger anyway.
So, Christmas is small in our culture.
Enter the vast cosmic vision of John of Patmos proclaiming a massive grandiose nature of that baby in the cattle shed!
John 1:1-14 (The Message)
The Word was first, the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
This human baby is God presence in a new way for human beings. He is the ultimate present to us! This human baby in small town Israel is the Word of the God of all things and was somehow also present when God brought into being all that we know and see from nothing.
Before Christmas became Christmas, and we became ourselves, this God-man is. This baby pre-dates us and post dates us all at once and he covers our existence from our cot to our grave and beyond. Now that is BIG!
What’s even better is that his very nature is creative – he creates; he creates good from bad, something from nothing, light from darkness…..
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
Yes, light to live by: Light that does not need electricity but shines brighter in the human heart; the light that only God’s voice can bring to our life.
Light not temporary and even dazzling to the human eye like our Christmas lights, but light in our darkest fears and worries and sin; light even for our dying and death: Christmas light that will still be on when the new dawn comes….
We need some convincing on this truth these days. For a million reasons we love the darkness and don’t mind the sin – if we will even acknowledge it exists in us. We seem to want to be masters of own destiny and creators of our own light to live our life and we seem to refuse this baby’s gift of a light that does not come from within us but from within God.
God obviously knows us very well. He sent us a messenger to get us ready for this baby….
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
Friends, you have been given the heads up on the magnitude of this baby – this Word made human flesh being. John called out in our darkness and wilderness, “Repent. Turn beck to God. God is coming to you in a new and very BIG way”.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life he brings into Light.
He was in the world, the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.
Friend, do you want to keep settling for a small Christmas devoid of this BIG Light that is hope and real peace?
Will you let yourself notice this divine and yet human light this time around? What will it take for you to actually want all of him and not just a surface level, childhood vision of him?
I don’t want to settle for a small Christmas ever. I know I need God’s Christmas – God’s word, God’s truth, God’s grace, God’s light in my darkness. I need the baby. I need his life, his teaching, his death and his resurrection for humanity and for me and all my relationships, work, health and peace.
Only these gifts from Jesus will raise me above my sin and my dying and death. I will only settle for this kind of Christmas these days.
But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not sex-begotten, not flesh-begotten.
Be born from above today. Let the baby carry you to his grace and truth and re-set you down with a new vision of who you are in your baptism and who you are in your life now.
By faith in this baby – the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, the God of the universe with us, you are born from above – born of the Holy Spirit, born of this baby and you are filled with grace and truth for your life now.
That’s Christmas. That’s what a billion people on planet earth get fired up about today.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
Go there to God’s presence today and let him come home with you into your family and your decisions, your dreams, your directions. He will transform you and them into something you don’t know about yet. But everything he does will have that gift of grace and truth about is and it will be good.
See the glory of the God of all things in the baby. Bask in the BIG light of a BIG Christmas – a God-Christmas. Be born from above and take in the grand grace and truth of it all.
Don’t settle for the usual SMALL Christmas. Let Christmas expand today.
Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of humanity,
for the LORD has comforted his people, he has bought you back with a price.
The LORD has shown his power for all to see,
and all the ends of the earth can see the salvation, hope and love of our God.