Merry Christmas 2015!

It’s 9:00 a.m. Christmas morning. My kids are still sleeping. I guess that’s how it is with high schoolers. What has your Christmas season been like this year?

As usual, mine has been a bit hectic. I tend to have to take things one day at a time to get through each day and whatever is planned. Christmas is a busy season at church where I work; it’s a busy season at home when the kids get to exams and Christmas break; it’s a busy season as my husband finishes teaching and his semester. I again forego getting out family Christmas cards this year and race around shopping in the last week or two. And somehow it all comes together.

Yesterday, as I did some last minute shopping, this song came on the radio:

That’s what I felt: “I need a silent night, a holy night.” Time to be still and ponder.

We ended Christmas Eve at our church’s annual candlelight service. It’s a beautiful service that closed with all of us holding our lit candles and singing the traditional Christmas carol “Silent Night, Holy Night,” further reminder of the silence my heart has needed to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

And what is that?

I love Chris Tomlin’s new Christmas song, “He Shall Reign Forevermore.” The first thing I loved about the song was hearing the echo of the words from the poem “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rosetti. That was a poem my children learned in school when they were young, and I learned along with them. But I was struck by these words in this new song: “This baby born to sacrifice, Christ the Messiah.”

Christ was born to die. That would be part of His mission, doing the will of His Father. He, who would come and live a perfect life, would die. He would be our atoning sacrifice, paying the price for our sins. Christ, our Creator God (Genesis 1-2), the Word made flesh (John 1), became our perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10). Why was that necessary?

Sin separates and divides. It’s been the ongoing reality of life for all humans since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first sinned (Genesis 3). We are all now separated from God by our sin (Romans 3:23), with no way to have access to God again of our own ability. And we are due the just consequences of that sin – death and separation (Romans 6:23a).

But Christ restores and redeems. This was accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. He was willing to do this (to be born to die – and not just any death, but a brutal one reserved for the worst of criminals) (Philippians 2:8) to restore our relationship with God (Colossians 1:19-22), to give us eternal life (John 3:16), to give us hope (1 Peter 1:3). This is great, great love (John 15:13, 1 John 3:16).

What is our response? If Christ has accomplished this great work on our behalf, I guess the question is what is our response to that?

Faith. Simple faith, childlike trust, in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

I think back to Rosetti’s poem:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what can I give him? Give him my heart.

We can respond with faith in Jesus, giving him our hearts. If you have not done that, what is stopping you? Ask in faith that God would help you and reveal Himself to you. Sometimes it’s that first step of faith that begins to open the door to much more truth, and step by step, He will lead us to Himself. I pray that for each one of us today and in the coming new year.

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