"In His majesty [I write] victoriously for the cause of truth...for the Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary." ~ Isaiah 50:4 (ESV)
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince Of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” ~ (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Shake Up the [JOY]
As the advent of Yuletide approaches, festive musings step back into the annual spotlight. But instead of capturing the jovial buzzes, the grandeur of seasonal allure and heartfelt episodes of goodwill everywhere, my heart is centered on something more transcending. Not to diminish the splendiferousness of Christmas charisma or the abundance of charitable displays; however, I must confess my pondering this year is centered or whether or not the true meaning of Christmas is being corporately recognized. As much as candlelight settings and the aroma of pine permits my sentiments to glow, what truly ignites the fire ablaze comes from a deeper source. So as I tread upon Tennessee green and the towns in between, I wonder: Am I wishing people a Merry Christmas or am I believing people can and will experience the life-changing reality behind these two very powerful words?
As millions of people shake up the gaiety, it’s important to remember Christmas character is not synonymous to the pursuit and expectation of what we define as “happiness” and “goodness”. As grand as family and liturgical traditions can be, what makes a celebration holy far exceeds one’s search for satisfaction. In a culture inundated with minimalizing ideologies, Christmas tends to be relegated to superficial joy, when the brunt of priority is placed on what we do and how we act. And though sugar cookies, stockings, ornaments, caroling, midnight masses and polar bears drinking coca-colas are agreeable customs, they are also frivolous manifestations in comparison to the unfathomable realities inspired by divine incarnation.
The Perfect Game
The undeniable truth is that Christ’s initial coming represents the greatest act of love in history, and Christmas, at its core, is communion - tender worship that expresses vertical gratitude. Personified in that love is sacrifice, compassion and grace – each facet signifying the reality of God’s nature and the epitome of a goodness we’re called to emulate. As commemoration collides with Christmas, how we perceive that goodness is imperative, for goodness will deprive great faith of transformational value, if joy becomes dependent on an inferior version of it. Instead of “joy to the world” flowing from transitory outlets, why not place the focal point of delight in knowing and seeking God intimately, rather than reducing such a powerful ambition to the unmoving motions that mark the minds of hearts yearning for a Savior?
Without salvation, Christmas is not Christmas and cannot be fully honored detached from Calvary. Is the nativity worth singing about? Absolutely! But what Christmas is really about is this: Jesus finished what he started. He lived the dream – a real and rhythmic relationship with God, marked by complete obedience and compassion. Christ’s journey, which started before the almah’s womb, before the manger scene, began in the heart of unconditional love. Thus, Christmas can be analogized as the first pitch of a perfect game. What makes a perfect game is not just the first pitch delivered straight down the pike, but the hundreds of flawlessly executed pitches that follow.
Me and My [Insert gifting here: ________________]
Last week, in the bleak of a rainy night, I popped in the Claymation edition of “The Little Drummer Boy” - the only animated Rankin-Bass production I hadn’t seen. As the short reached its climatic apex, the drummer boy’s conversion struck an unexpected nerve. Not only did his hatred against humanity melt at the sight of Christ, but he wasted no time in strumming his drum to the best of his ability, despite the uncertainty of his injured lamb. Such an organic response flowing from overriding belief captivated me. With Jesus in mind, he did not fret or doublethink; he simply played his heart out, using the gift imparted to him by that same baby! His past, his problems, his worries…all did not matter in comparison to the joy set before him. If we pause and ponder hard enough, all of us can identify to some degree with the little drummer boy.
So as your family huddles around the fire this Christmas, marveling at the prophecies fulfilled at Christ’s birth, bask in the entirety of what Christ came to do. Yes, the Christmas story can be found in Luke 1-2, but the narrative is also evidence in passages like Philippians 2:7-8:
“But [Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of The Cross”.
Just like Christmas is not Christmas without salvation, Immanuel (“God is with us”) is not Immanuel without with Hosanna (“God saves”). In light of the miraculous trisection of incarnation, justification and sanctification, recognize and embrace hallowed dependency of God in your life and like the little drummer boy, ask yourself, “Am I living to put a smile on God’s face?” and “What will my gifts to Him be this coming year?”
In closing, I would like to thank you for the loyal readership this year and I look forward to many more spirit-authored blogs in 2013!