When the Christmas lights fade

The lights fade.  The tree is taken down.  The smell of pine no longer fills the house with a fresh scent.  They say it’s too late to listen to Christmas music or watch any cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances.  

I have to admit. I’m the person who loves the season so much that I start listening to Christmas music right when November hits, and I continue until people say it’s way too late.  When we strip the tree of the beautiful ornaments, take down the sparkling lights, and pack our less-than-real tree into its home in the storage room, there is always a sadness at the realization that the magical season is over.

What is it that draws our hearts to the beauty of Christmas?  Why is it that we are so sad when it’s over? It’s not the overcrowded malls, or the message of Hallmark’s movies to find the “spirit of Christmas”, or even the delicious treats that come with the holiday.  There is something so much deeper, so much more beautiful than our hearts realize.

We hear that Jesus is the reason for the season.  We know that baby Jesus was born in a stable and was laid in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn (see Luke 2). But what is it about this baby boy?  Why is there a holiday that was originally based on this one child’s birthday? And why are our hearts drawn to it?

The long expected Savior

You see, the Israelites had been awaiting a Messiah ever since the Fall when God promised to crush the enemy through the fruit of Eve’s womb. God cursed the serpent for his deception.  To him he said, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Countless times after, prophets predicted a king who would crush the enemy. They had waited with expectancy. Yet they didn’t know from what they would be saved.  

Zechariah, the father of John who would prepare the way for Jesus, prophesied who this Jesus would be.   

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:68-79).  

Jesus is the long expected Savior who crushed the serpent.  He came as the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace. He is the fulfillment of the covenant of old, prophesied by dozens of prophets.  He didn’t come to be an inspirational message to say that the meaning of Christmas is being with those you love, or to urge you to believe in the “spirit of Christmas”.  He came as a perfect human baby to a world that is falling apart so that his creation might be redeemed and saved from the sin that leads to destruction and ultimately, separation that prevents us from knowing God.  

Ever since the first sin in the garden, the world has been longing for a savior to make things right.  Paul tell us in Romans 8 that “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”  

The longing of our souls

That is why we are drawn to Christmas, and can’t wait for it to come along again.  All creation longs for all to be made right, whether or not it realizes it.  The incarnation, when God became flesh, is the moment in history that changed the fate of every tongue, tribe, and nation.  It brought hope.  It brought peace.  It brought light.

So take heart, fellow Christmas-lover.  What truly draws you to Christmas is not limited to December 25th.  Though the Christmas tree must come down eventually, the hope of a Savior to redeem the broken creation must not come down.  We shouldn’t limit celebration Jesus becoming man to one day. Instead, we must celebrate every day the fact that God not only became flesh, but he let his flesh be torn and bruised for us.  

The lights of the Christmas tree will come down.  But Jesus, the Light of the World, will keep shining as a beacon of light in a dark world.  

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