Is it just me or does Christmas feel a little darker this year?
There’s a sense of exhaustion in the air that feels palpable. Last year it seemed like there was a lot more uncertainty. While we are still battling over mandates and masks, we don’t seem to be teetering on the edge of oblivion the same way we were a year ago, even two. I think that as we move into two full years of vicious battles and families shunning one another over vaccination status, fatigue is setting in. So much has been taken from us in the last two years. What the virus took, we can find ways to cope with, and we have. We know that like any sickness, manufactured or not, it will run its course and release us from its grip. But the grip of government has just kept tightening, and more and more of us are coming to the realization that their grip will have to be forcabley removed. Worse, we’re not sure if the nation has the will any longer to do just that.
Americans are just not feeling the Christmas Spirit.
Today, let this column be your reminder that the Christmas Spirit isn’t something you find under the tree or watch in a commercial. Even the term “Christmas Spirit” feels like a commercial term. It’s certainly come to be a commercial term these days, and it’s one that even secular Americans use.
The Christmas Spirit is a story – a story about a perfect God, in three persons, who was Love, and so was compelled to create beings to love, and to love Him, His very essence expressed in our very existence. He gave us a lush home, and work to fulfill us, and relationships to nurture. He did not force us to love Him, but instead gave us free will, so that we may choose to love Him. For what is love if it is not given freely? Can love be love if it isn’t chosen?
And in this story, we play the villain – beings created by Love for love; but unable to be satisfied with such lavishness we chose instead to try to become our own gods, and rule our own creations. The first sin was rebellion, and Love was grieved.
We all know that saying – if you love something, set if free. If it returns to you it was meant to be.
So God set us free, to choose Him or to make our own way without Him, and as it turned out, there really wasn’t much freedom without the inventor of freedom. We hardly noticed as we slipped chains around ourselves and each other. The whole of human history has been lurching towards perpetual bondage ever since. The tale of humanity is riddled with cruelty and horrors, as our original sin corrupted original creation.
God’s purest nature is a mystery to us. We only know that pure Love cannot tolerate sin and hatred. We don’t know why but that’s just the way it is. We were created to be loved and to love, but our rebellion made us foul. No longer could we be in God’s presence. How lonely and lowly we were, once we were separated from our purpose. Love is eternal, and yet our sin made us mortal. We ruined it. We would never be holy enough to stand next to God’s glory in His eternal kingdom.
But this story does not end with our self-destruction, one that is easily visible when we look around our planet these days. No, this story begins with a baby. A baby, born in the dirt, born as low as a man could be born, but who would become a surprising King. It begins with a God who lives outside of time, chaining himself inside of time, to become like us, to walk among us, to be us. It is the story of a Creator who has pursued us throughout space and time and whatever lies beyond that, relentlessly and passionately. It is the story of a perfect man who was also God, who was also our rescuer, who took on our degradation, wore our sin, received our just punishment, and made a path for us to be able to come back home and walk in the garden with our Creator once again. It is a story of hope and grace, redemption and forgiveness.
It is the story of the ages and we are all the main characters.
Today, let us marvel, not mope. Let us pray, not politicize. Let us love, not lecture.
Tomorrow will bring us more opportunities so find unrest.
Today we rest, for unto us a King is born. Amen and amen and amen.