I’m Finally Looking Forward to Christmas!

My wife calls me a Scrooge during the Christmas season.  She can barely wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start decorating the house (and started listening to Christmas music the day they started playing it on the radio… way before Thanksgiving).  I just can’t do it.  I usually start getting into “the Christmas spirit” about a week before Christmas – until then, well, I just get weighed down by the stress and chaos of the season.

Honestly, I think today (yes, two days before Christmas day!) might be the first day this year that I’ve legitimately gotten excited about Christmas coming.  Is that terrible of me?

I know it’s terribly cliche for a pastor to say (or write!) religious platitudes about the beauty, glory, miracle, and joy of Christmas.  (But aren’t cliches often truths that have been heard so often they’re taken for granted?  Maybe we should be nicer to cliches?)  Christmas really is a wonderful time for Christians to reflect on their faith.  Give presents, have fun, drink eggnog, but please take time here and there to reflect on the reality that God became a man. If you think about it, that’s really quite the ridiculous claim (unless it’s true).

O Come, O Come Emmanuel has always been my favorite Christmas hymn.  I came across the version below on YouTube a few years ago and I really like it.  There’s just something about it that conveys the longing and the desire for Christ that I should have all year round.  Even as I write, I’m reminded of what the very name Jesus means, “God saves” or “God is salvation.”  We all long for salvation, even if we don’t realize it.  I think that’s why buying something new (or receiving a new gift) makes us feel so good, because it’s like a clean slate, a new start.  But salvation is in God, through Jesus Christ, and can’t be bought.

The gift of Christmas is Jesus.  Not the cute baby Jesus, but the lived and suffered and died and rose from the grave and ascended into heaven for you Jesus.  Yes, the baby Jesus and the “God-Man Jesus” are the same person, but when we focus only on Jesus as a cute baby  at Christmas and forget the rest of his life then we’re missing the point.  Heaven was breaking through in order to rescue and redeem God’s humanity and all creation!

Emmanuel (“God With Us”) has come… and he’s coming again to finish the job!

God Sent Himself to the Cross

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.”

(Colossians 1:19–20)

I’ve been mulling this verse around my head for a few days now.  Every Tuesday morning I get together with two other youth pastors, and we’ve been going through the book of Colossians lately.  These two verses really summarize the entire Gospel so beautifully and concisely!

God the Father was pleased to send God the Son to become a man in Jesus Christ in order that “all things” might be reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ death on the cross.  This is some serious theology!  God was not bitter or angry about sending Jesus Christ to the cross, “he was pleased” to do it!

It’s so important to always remember that Jesus Christ IS God.  The Trinity is so crucial to always have in mind: God the Father + God the Son + God the Holy Spirit = One God.  They’re not all 1/3 God… they’re all distinctly different Persons, yet so tied to each other that they constitute one God.  So when the Apostle Paul writes that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through his blood shed on the cross” we need to remember that God was so pleased to reconcile all things to Himself that He sent Himself to the cross to do it!

How often I take this for granted!  Jesus Christ was/is fully God and fully man, and died in my place on the cross so that I could be forgiven and put back into a right relationship with God (reconciled).  I take the cross for granted so often!  May I always remember the wonder of the cross!

Here’s a video for Vicky Beeching’s song “The Wonder of the Cross.”  It’s an amazing and heartfelt song, I’d really encourage you to watch and listen: