Christmas. The Word itself evokes emotions, memories, traditions, family, friends.
In various ways throughout most of our world, it is celebrated. Not necessarily on December 25th as we do in the United States.
Christmas means so much to so many of us.
The original story, the original Christmas is often overlooked now days. But not for me. It is the most favorite time of the year for me, because it is about God entering our world and becoming one of us.
The problem is that part of the story often goes unsaid, un-noticed.
It is one of THE TWO GREATEST MIRACLES EVER.
How can we miss it?
The basis of the Christmas story is that God sent His very own Son to earth-to be born just as we all are, as a newborn baby.
From the beginning, when God created the universe and then created Adam and Eve, He has longed to be Our Father. He cherishes us as His very precious children and longs to love us in the most perfect way.
Maybe you know the story, maybe you don't. So I will give you a brief synopsis. God created the world, then created the first man and woman: Adam and Eve. God desired so much to be their Father. He envisioned a perfect world. One that was without sickness and death, grief and heartache, poverty, racism, hatred and war. He wanted us to know Him and live in peace.
He asked Adam and Eve to take care of His Creation, which they were happy to do. He asked them not to eat the fruit of one specific tree- the tree of knowledge of good and evil, because if they did, He told them they would surely die.
Well as it often happens, curiosity got the best of Eve, (thru the trickery of God's enemy, aka the devil, disguised as a serpent), and she wanted to find out why this fruit was forbidden. In a short conversation, the devil misquoted God, confused her, and then encouraged her to take the fruit because then she would be like God.
Sounded good to Eve, so she ate the fruit and then convinced Adam to do the same.
And that is when God's vision of His perfect world stopped.
We tend to forget that He is God and we are not.
I do that way too often.
Reality though, is that HE INDEED IS GOD, and we are not.
God is the Creator and the Sustainer of all life.
He knows what is BEST for each of us. And think how many there are of us; both now and in history past.
Our basic problem is that we want to be god, and that is just never going to happen. He is what holds together our universe.
When Adam and Eve took the fruit (this is what was known as the first or original sin), God came up with Plan B.
First we might need to give a quick basic definition of sin.
sIn is putting ourselves as first. Giving us the Capital I. We want to be god and not follow the real GOD. Somebody has to be the one in charge and in God's plan, He is the One.
We tend to struggle with that a bit, we want to be in charge of our own lives-and often the lives of others. Since God was the One who created the world and us, He became the top dog-the one in command. And sin is basically us rebelling against God's plan. We like to be in charge.
So God's "perfect creation and world" ended with Adam and Eve deciding to do what they wanted, and God came up with Plan B that would allow us again to have the original relationship God had intended for each of us with Himself. He knew that there was nothing we as humans could do, to make things right.
Oh we tried. We followed His laws (most of the time). We offered sacrifices to make up for our sins and He accepted those. But they would never take away permanently our need to keep asking God to forgive us thru our sacrifices.
So God's plan involved sending His Precious Son, Jesus to earth.
Together they knew what must be done to save us from our sins.
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"
John 1:14 (NIV)
Or as another version states:
"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood" The Message
God's own Son, Jesus, came into our world, as a newborn baby. He lived and grew just as we did. He was man and yet He was still God. Jesus was God in the Flesh; God Incarnate. Jesus became the Light in a very dark world. But as we often do, we didn't recognize Him, didn't want to acknowledge who He really is. That doesn't change the fact of WHO He is or why He came.
Fact be known, Jesus came to our earth as a man, to take care of sin once and for all. His sole purpose in leaving heaven and coming to earth was to reconcile us to the intended relationship with God the Father that He had envisioned since before time began.
He lived to die. He lived so that He could be the ONE sacrifice that was needed to take care of our sins. And He did that on Good Friday when He was crucified and died for the sins of entire mankind. Just so that we could know Our Father the way He had intended. Know His Love for us, His Grace and His Forgiveness.
John 1 :4-5 says:
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus was life. Jesus was the Light. Jesus was the Light in the darkness of the world. And even the darkest dark cannot hide Him from us.
We all need Light in the midst of the darkness of our world. The atrocities that occur over and over again. The raping of women and young girls, those sold into prostitution or child slavery, the rampant wars that continue, the extreme poverty that 7/8 of the world endures, the sicknesses, the deaths of those we love. The wrong decisions we make that cost us, either emotionally or financially. WE need THE LIGHT of Jesus to counteract the hatred and jealousy of racism. We need His Light to bring healing to broken homes, broken relationships. We need to be embraced by the Light of Jesus, to hold us close when life seems completely overwhelming.
Jesus often shows us His Light thru His people.
He has shown me His LIGHT in my very dark fall thru the lives of 11 incredible young women.
Two of them, Andi and Jen are my Young Life staff friends who I try to mentor. They have showered me with love and affection all fall long-even during Andi's wedding to Mike. Thank you both so so much.
The other LIGHT in my darkness has been my Young Life College Friends in Chico. They have blessed me, prayed for me, sent me texts and messages, called me and upheld and supported me in my very darkest fall ever. Having two cancer surgeries within 6 days and a very long recovery time, plus losing my dear 4th "son" Robby has made life difficult to say the least.
I am blessed and beyond grateful to both my Sarah's, Kristin, Caitlin, Lauren, Katie, Bri, Emily and Robin. They have been Jesus to me. They are my Jesus sightings all thru this hard time.
Jesus brought them into my life to be HIS LIGHT in the darkness I experienced.
I am truly truly thankful.
I am so amazed at how day in and day out, the LIGHT of JESUS shines. We just need to look for it-to look for HIM, in all our days.
My prayer is that in this next week, we all look and long for the true LIGHT that will not allow the darkness we face, to extinguish His Presence with us.