Why would God do the Christmas thing? It’s commercial, it often brings out the worst of consumerism, it stresses people, promotes greed and jealousies among children, and rekindles moments of bitterness and family frictions among adults. Sadly for most people there is just a confusion about the purpose of Christmas. Christmas for many has become like a statue in the park where observers wonder why it is there and pigeons find it convenient for all the wrong reasons. So why would God do the Christmas thing in the first place?
Forgive me! I am sounding like Scrooge and I am anything but a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. I love Christmas but I will admit that understanding it goes a long way toward enjoying it and avoiding some of its pitfalls.
Christmas is about a birth worth celebrating. The circumstances are unique. A teenage girl, a virgin, falls pregnant. It was a miraculous conception that partnered God with humanity in a unique way. Mary’s virginity was crucial because this child would be like us in our humanity but different from all others in that he was divine. He would be conceived out of God’s holiness, untainted by the brokenness and sinfulness that is the inheritance of human history. It had to be this way because the child the virgin would give birth to was Immanuel, God with us. It had to be this way because the child the virgin would give birth to was called Jesus, whose name declared his purpose to save His people from their sins. Someone has said “Only people should pay for their sins but only God is good enough to pay for the sins of all people”. Hence the reason for God doing the Christmas thing and becoming one of us. Hence the importance of the purity attached to his conception. As a human without sin he can take our sin upon himself as our representative. As God he could remove sin and bring forgiveness from God and restored relationships.
God becoming one of us has significant implications. For a start it allows God to sympathise with our weaknesses which Christmas is often good at exposing. It is good to understand this when the house is a mess with Christmas wrappings, children are responding to their cordial and cake overdoses and you’re trying to keep the peace with parents and in-laws. And Christmas is just one day in a year where it is helpful to know that God understands and can sympathise with our weaknesses. Throughout His life, Jesus experienced all the temptations we experience but the difference was that he did not sin.
When Jesus Christ was born it was God entering into our world taking on our humanity. In technical language it is often called the “incarnation”. And it’s one of the reasons why God does the Christmas thing. God wants us to know Him. God wants us to know that he understands us and can help us. I could not exhaust all the reasons why God does the Christmas thing but I can tell you Christmas displays the fact that God loves us, God chooses to be with us and that God is for us.
The angel who appeared to the shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus birth said, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”
If you met an angel my guess is you would listen to them. So perhaps it is worth reflecting on the angel’s words because the angel reminds us that God does the Christmas thing for us…for you. He is God and we are not. We are marked by sin but God is not. We are in great need and the birth of Jesus who saves us from our sins is God’s great answer.
The coming of God into our world was not something to fear but a reason for celebration. Enjoy the celebration! Merry Christmas!