Ahh–Christmas! Glowing lights, sweet songs, an adorable baby nestled in his mother’s arms while cute sheep stand around and glorious angels sing carols!
At least, that’s what we today sell as Christmas. (I worked at Hallmark for over 18 years, so I have some first-hand experience of that.) But when we read the Bible stories about Jesus’ birth, and Jesus, a bit more closely, what we find in them is far more amazing and wonderful, but a good bit less adorable and cute, than the Christmas we sell today.
Today’s Scripture is, believe it or not, about what God was setting in motion at Jesus’ birth, at Christmas. “While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people….God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” At its heart, that was what Christmas was about–that was what Jesus’ whole life was about. Jesus was God, coming in person on the great, self-giving mission to rescue all of us, even before we knew we needed rescue.
That confronts me with two realities, both of which I struggle with:
1) I am an “ungodly” person, a “sinner.” No, I didn’t sleep in the gutter last night, or spend the evening losing my family’s food money at a casino. But as the promotion piece for our upcoming sermon series says, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. It certainly cuts through mine. Jesus wasn’t a nice option for me–I desperately, personally, daily need what Jesus did for me.
2) The ugly, unpretty cross Jesus died on shows how much God loves me right along with the baby sleeping in the manger. It was all one seamless act of love, one life, death and resurrection telling me that God would go to any lengths to reach my heart, to redeem my life. I don’t always feel loveable; I don’t always feel loved. But that’s an internal problem with me–because what Jesus did for me, the way God indelibly showed God’s unfailing love for me, is always there.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And I hope and pray that long after the toys have broken, the sweaters have gotten holes in them, and the jewelry has gotten tarnished and set aside in a box in your dresser, God’s love, shown in a manger, shown on a cross, keeps shining brightly in your heart.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.