Hope... Peace... Joy... declarations shine out as we bustle from home and work amidst garland and twinkling lights. Candles mingle with signs proclaiming "Jesus is the Reason for the season", venders are awash with evergreen. Yet when hope was born, all was simple; the struggle of a woman, the support of a man, and then... the cry of a babe.
My mind has been captivated by the miracle we call Christmas. An invitation has come: Dwell on the birth of "the Anointed One" daily, tarry in wonder. God has come to mankind with soft baby skin and love in his eyes. As a child he astounded grown men. As he grew he was the voice of God incarnate.
He walked this earthen clay, and some called him Teacher, some, Messiah, but those closest to him named him Jesus, which means "The Lord Saves". For Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost; to restore the broken relationship between God and man. He bridged the chasm between us, took on the messiness of this mortal coil, so we might experience his love, his very presence in our daily lives. And so we call him Emmanuel, God with us.
Miraculous that saving power came through blood; such great sacrifice. The cross is a violent image and yet, what is more tender than a newborn, wrapped in swaddling clothes? God in the form of an infant, dependent upon his mother for nourishment and care. Who can comprehend the unfathomable mystery? When the shepherds worshipped him, Mary pondered these things in her heart (Luke 1:19) and two thousand years later, I marvel at how God chose to reveal himself to man.
What was it like for God to come as a child? He was sought out from afar before he could speak his name! From the rising of the sun, celestial gazers followed a star, rejoicing when they found "the King". Men of wisdom saw God in the flesh-- in a common home with his mother. As they worshiped what did they behold? God cloaked in the form of a toddler. Does this not astound the foundations of a soul?
Costly gifts were presented; gold and frankincense and myrrh. Mary would have understood the spices were used in burial. When the fragrance filled his senses, did the Holy Child grasp these gifts used to embalm? I marvel even now at the symbolism.
Luke tells us that as Jesus grew, he was filled with wisdom and "the grace of God was upon him"- but this is all we know of his early years, and so I plumb the depths with wonderings. Of this I am sure; Jesus understands what it is to be different. He was special in a way that changed everything. And as the parent of two children with medical needs and special issues, I take comfort in this.
We are told in many ways throughout scripture that we are not alone, that we have a Savior who understands the intricacies and challenges of life. Emmanuel had the unique perspective of our human struggles matched with the limitless, unconditional, all sacrificing love of God. Amidst the business and extra activities that come with the season, it is good to turn attention away from lists and activities, and take some time to dwell on the amazing meaning we can connect with in every season. He's not found only in the manger- he is present in every moment, for He is God with us.