God IS With Us!
The Christmas story is not just about a baby, but it’s also about a King. It’s more than sheep, and donkeys or calves in a stall, it’s also about the creation that He spoke into existence. It’s more than just shepherds on a black starry night, it’s about multitudes of redeemed. It’s more than a manger, but it is also a cross and an empty tomb. The events are not mutually exclusive, they are not meant to be stand alone moments, but they are all a part of the whole; all a part of this marvelous story of salvation and the One who came to write it’s finish.
I have never been inclined to get involved in all the peripheral issues surrounding the Christmas season. I just enjoy the time and draw what joy I find in it. Usually I try to keep a low profile, and keep my focus on Jesus. I would rather just relax and breathe in the Spirit of God who directs this orchestra to begin with. Whether it’s pagan in origin or not, doesn’t change what I believe. Whether it’s commercial or not doesn’t really phase me, we all know how capitalism works. Whether we start before or after Thanksgiving doesn’t really change anything, as long as it is all done with great thanksgiving. The month of the year?; come on, since when would the eternal, timeless creator be moved by June or August or December? Trees, lights, decorations, gifts, Santa Clause and elves, it’s all just stuff and, unfortunately, comes with the territory. There’s probably nothing we could ever do to put that toothpaste back in the tube. But after all, when its all said and done, when the dust settles, it’s not up to our culture to tell His story, it’s up to us. And I think most of us who are reading this, have the ability to cut through all the clutter, all the glitter, and get to the real heart of the matter. If we’re not careful, we can loose sight of the center either way.
There is something, however, that permeates the season, in both large and small ways, in both inconsequential and monumental ways, in grand displays and also unnoticeable events. Something that is so essential to the story, that when you look closely, you can see that it is woven naturally and easily into the very fabric of the season. To me, maybe even like a warm blanket.
It’s this thing of worship. You can’t escape it’s presence or it’s draw when you truly celebrate Christmas, this marvelous story. To me it’s intoxicating, and it is inexorably written into the script. Around every corner, at every turn of the page, this story solicits, and even demands our worship. It calls our attention to the fact that this story is full of grace and mercy, and requires that we respond to that gracious and merciful God who has written this eternal story for our salvation.
Go with me for a moment on a short journey.
When the angel of the Lord told Joseph not to fear what was taking place with Mary, Joseph worshiped at the Word of the Lord. The angel appeared to, and assured Mary that the child in her was from God and she broke into worship with the Magnificat ; “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior.” When Mary visited with her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also miraculously pregnant, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb began to leap in her at His presence. I believe that unborn child was worshipping this one he had come to proclaim.
Then John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, began to prophecy and worship.
Is the picture becoming clearer now? Can you see a theme? But wait, there’s more! The angels appeared to announce His birth with great joy, and then, suddenly, they were joined by the worship team, praising the King. The shepherds ran off to see this thing that had happened, and when they did, they broke into joyful, spontaneous worship.
Simeon, an old man of God who had lived his life at the temple, waiting for Messiah, and had asked God to spare his life until he saw Israel’s savior, and, with him, Anna, a prophetess began to prophecy and worship when they saw the baby. We don’t know the time frame, but individuals from a great distance came on a long, treacherous journey because of His star. They came and brought extravagant gifts as acts of worship.
With all this, could I possibly celebrate this season with anything less, or maybe with anything else at all, but with my worship.
The story began to be written in the eternal past, but neither human hand nor pen was set to the page until much later. God, Himself unfolded the story layer by layer. Then, men like Noah, Moses, Abraham, Issac and Jacob got pieces of the story. Then, the law of Moses began to fill in some of the details. Things like tables of the law, a tabernacle, a brazen alter, a wash basin, a lamp stand, a golden table of communion, a place of prayer, that awesome curtain and that te
rrible, wonderful ark of the covenant. All of these elements fleshed out the story of a coming savior. They spoke of His character, of His purpose, and even of His death.
Then the prophets began to speak of one who would come to establish the kingdom of God.
Prophet after prophet spoke of this one who would come and bring salvation to His people. Isaiah said that this one who was to came would be called Emmanuel, God with us. The angels in their announcement confirmed Isaiah’s prophecy. This most powerful and wonderful story displays, not God above us, not God against us, not God separate from us, but God with us.
God with us IS the Christmas story. With everything else stripped away, everything else made consequential to this fact, Christmas is proclaiming loudly, boldly and eternally that God is with us!