Even while living in Haiti, I’m all too aware of the evangelical frustration with the commercialization of Christmas. “It’s not about presents, it’s about Jesus!”. Even this, you see, God has redeemed. It’s hard to admit that secular and capitalist culture is right in a way. Christmas is indeed, all about a gift, however, the great present is God’s very presence. With the birth of Jesus God extends his presence to us in an unprecedented way.
We long to satisfy the hunger pangs of human desire. These longings are good! In fact, these desires and needs that each of us experience are created by God himself!
Each year during Christmas time we enjoy the holiday season with the giving and receiving of gifts. Oh the joy! That joy is linked up to the idea that a desire or need can be met in the giving or receiving of a particular gift (or if you’re me, with many many gifts!).
Perhaps for some of you it’s not a gift that you love about Christmas. Perhaps it’s simply time with friends and family. I love to sip the newest and best hot chocolates with my friends while engaging in deep and meaningful conversation. I love sharing in the lives of those around me—it’s one of life greatest joys indeed. Christmas is so exciting each year because we have the great expectation that our needs will be met.
At the same time, none of these experiences that we love to enjoy during the Christmas season are sufficient. We go through what I call “the great disappointment” each year. We get that gift we wanted, we enjoy it, we admire it and see that it is good (Genesis 3), and we make it our own. After long, however, the gift wears out and loses its luster, and hunger pangs set it again. We need to fill that void.
The truth is that this is only a void that a relationship with God himself can fill. Being all too aware of this, God sends Jesus. This is the Christmas message.
The banner hanging over the biblical Christmas story is Immanuel, God with us. This is what Christmas is all about.
From the start of the downward spiral of humanity that we encounter in Genesis 3, God has been at work restoring a deep, substantial, dialogical relationship between himself and humanity. As death, decay, corruption, self-centeredness, and a perverted desire for an isolation from God crept into God’s very own story, he sought to redeem—he sought to drastically transform the hearts of men and women to return to a state of deep desire for God.
First, he did it through the written word handed to Israel through Moses. Then, he sent Jesus, the second member of the Holy Trinity.
The writer of Hebrews says this,
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:1–3a, ESV).
God himself took on flesh and dwelt among us—Immanuel.
God’s desire to be in meaningful relationship with humanity, to be the very water of life that satisfies the deepest desires that He created in the human soul, was evidenced through Jesus putting on flesh and sharing his life with us.
Receive the gift this Christmas of Immanuel. He wants to share his life with us.