“The best of all is God is with us.” – John Wesley’s dying word.
This is not a post about the theology of the Christmas story. This is not about the meaning of “Immanuel” or about the Incarnation. This post is based on the conviction that God has dramatized something meaningful through the history of Christmas. I believe that God has been creatively weaving a story into the fabric of our Christmas traditions that point to the greater reality of his glory. This is in and through and in spite of our selfishness.
Here are a few things I see.
The Redemption of Christmas
Apparently many of the traditions of Christmas come from pagan European celebrations.
This is why many Christians choose not to celebration the holiday. That and the fact that Western culture by and large has made the holiday less about Incarnation and more about materialism and greed.
But nonetheless, I believe that God has dramatized something really magnificent through the history of the Christmas tradition. Namely, redemption.
Many Christmas traditions originally came from pagan traditions. Also, Jerusalem and the Promised Land come from pagan people. And Christian people come from pagan people.
God is in the business of redemption. This is only one more reason we should rejoice and celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God who has come to make all things new.
I observe God creatively dramatizing the redemption of his church out of the world through the adoption of pagan traditions into the Christmas tradition.
The Theology of Every Christmas Thing
In order to rebel against God human persons must use stuff that’s about Jesus. God created stuff like food and family to point to and glorify Christ, his Son. Laughter, money, trees, stories, fire, alcohol – these are building blocks for a world which points to the reality of Jesus. We are only able to use things which are designed to glorify Jesus to rebel against him. This is because things which are designed to glorify Jesus are the only kinds of things in existence.
That is the irrationality, perversion, and wickedness of evil.
I am noticing a little dramatization of this concept in Christmas. Christmas is based on a celebration of the Incarnation. Yet we take these songs about Jesus and use them to celebrate materialism and greed.
But that’s what is so awesome about Christmas. It is so rooted in the gracious gift of God the Father that we cannot possibly be greedy and selfish without using images of his grace and goodness and the coming of his Beloved Son to do so.
I think the same thing is going on all around us all the time, actually. This is our Father’s world. He designed it to proclaim his love in the magnificence of his Son. We must use things like food, relationships, possessions, fatherhood, work – things which retell this story – in order to rebel against this story.
Christmas is like a miniature version of the whole world. The world of Christmas is encompassed by the reality of the Incarnation. Yet we work within the world of Christmas to resist God’s grace in our selfishness. But we can only do this by using things which dramatize his grace, like Christmas presents.
Take home: celebrate Christmas with all your heart. Go ahead and a cry a bit while you watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas.There is a lasting foundation to the nostalgia and happy times that will not fade. His name is Jesus.
Born is the King of Israel. Merry Christmas.