A young man in high school recently shared with me that he'd never heard the biblical account of the Christmas story. What he knew about Christmas was essentially informed by song lyrics and movie plots.
The questions he asked were pure, honest, and amazing:
"Wait, who was Joseph?"
"Why would God show up as a baby?"
"Wasn't there a star or something?"
In Surprised By Hope, N.T. Wright writes, "Take away the stories of Jesus' birth, and you lose only two chapters of Matthew and two of Luke. Take away the resurrection, and you lose the entire New Testament."
While we don't get as much information from the gospel writers about Jesus' birth as we do his death and resurrection, Christmas is the catalyst that sets Easter into motion.
Christmas isn't about reindeer, lights, presents, trees, stockings, elves, snow, carols, eggnog, or ugly sweaters.
It's not about sales, sleigh rides, or movie marathons on TBS.
It's not even about spending time with our families, though that's such a beautiful part of it for many of us.
The whole point of Christmas is this: God writes himself into the script of our world so we can know who he really is.
My conversation with my young friend prompted me to revisit my own understanding of Christmas.
I was struck by a passage in the book of Luke:
"Becase of God's tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death
and to guide us to the path of peace."
God didn't come to tell you how poor of a job you're doing at life.
He didn't come to give you a long list of rules to follow.
He didn't come to start a religion or leave behind a book of moral lessons.
He came to brighten our world.
He came to show us where true peace is found.
He came to rescue us from ourselves.
That's reason to celebrate!
I hope you and your family enjoy a safe, blessed, and healthy Christmas season.
Thanks for reading.