Dec 7, 2009

When Christmas Calls

On that first "silent night" so long ago, two worlds gently touched. The unseen spiritual world bumped ever so dramatically against the one that we live in; and God reached out and laid a gift at our feet. The gift was a Child. And the Child had great purpose attached to His life. And He fulfilled that purpose with perfect devotion. I wonder, could we, one more time, consider the beauty of that gift that was a Child...

Sometimes when we gaze upon the beauty and innocence and wonder of the Christ Child we simply see Him as that, the precious Babe of promise. Nothing wrong with that, obviously. But, it deepens our appreciation for the worth of the promise that lives in Him when we consider the depth of His condescension.

Just think about it. Jesus came to this world from an existence in which He was absolutely limitless. For example, time could impose no limit on him. A thousand years was as one day, and a day, as a thousand years. He existed before time; and He shall remain after it. He existed in eternity yesterday as tomorrow. To Him both were, and are, but the present, so that He would once say, "Before Abraham was, I am." Humanity has always been absolutely restricted to a life lived only in the present. But before the "Baby" came to our world, He never knew such menial restrictions.

Nor could limitations of space be imposed upon Him as the pre-incarnate God. He was everywhere in all places at once. He existed in all existence. Not in the pantheistic sense, but in the sense of His omniscience and power. He was everywhere in all of the universe, and yet, was distinct from it as its Creator. This Child, before he was a child, was in the universe while at the same time encompassing it. He filled all space and occupied none.

Before this Baby became a baby and put on a covering of human flesh, He was absolute in power. He knew no restrictions, no obstacles, and no restraints to His will. What He determined, he could effortlessly do. He was God Almighty.

Because that was true, His existence was without pain or injury. He was immersed in the joy of absolute freedom. He lived an existence entirely in the light of unbridled goodness. He knew nothing of the anguish of weakness. He knew nothing of tears born out of oppression. He knew nothing of hunger or thirst. Before He became the Child of Christmas, He knew only the creative joys of unlimited power.

But, when the Father's redemptive call came, all of that changed. In order to become the Savior of the world, He had to lay down his Godly privilege and become like us. And so He did. He veiled Himself in the flesh of a little child and entered the world of his cherished creature to bring a message of hope, and love and redemption. And from the moment of His miraculous and humiliating birth, this once unlimited God began to experience the pain of all things human.

How unfamiliar and difficult that first breath of air must have been to a God who only a moment before had no need of air. But that was surely nothing compared to what was coming.

He who had, only yesterday, spanned the universe without effort or loss of time, now would spend years just to traverse the lengths of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. He who created our sun, and a trillion more like it, and flung them all into the Heavens with but a word, must now endure its disabling heat, and feel the sweat born of laboring under it. He must, every day, inhale the dust of the world that He created. He must endure the pain that He created the world without. He must taste the anguish of heart that He never intended humanity to know.

This Baby, who only a moment ago had governed the universe according to His whim, must now taste the deep bitterness of disappointment and frustration and failure. And though He had walked with the perfect Adam, He must presently experience the wounds that His now depraved creation would inflict upon Him.

This Baby, who, as God, knew no needs of any kind, must now know the throes of hunger, feel the need for sleep, and experience the weakness of exhaustion. And, this One who had cast an angry and defiant Satan from Heaven, must now face him as a mere man. And finally, how horrible it must have been for the Essence of Life to lie down in the dark void of death, and that, in response to the needs of those who killed Him.

So obviously, it is one thing to simply gaze upon the beauty of this wondrous Gift from God; and it is quite another to appreciate the depth of His condescension. To become the Promise of Christmas, and embrace the responsibility of reconciling two worlds, Jesus had to step from a throne of unlimited power to a lowly manger, in but the space of a moment.

Christmas is romanticized in many ways from jingling bells to roasting chestnuts, to white landscapes. But here is the true romance of it all. It is the romance of a reconciliation - a reconnection to our benevolent Creator .

The simple truth is that our world is full of people who are estranged from the loving God who created their soul. But Christmas calls us back. This Child of the manger, through the nobility of His sacrifice, speaks to us in deep and primitive rhythms of the promise of forgiveness and newness and the opportunity to start again.

It is true that many resist those deep reverberations of the heart. We choose instead to devote ourselves to the empty pursuits of this world. Or we diffuse the beautiful light of His call into the complicated and overwhelming fragmentations of our life. Or we allow the treachery of those other voices in our head to talk away the value and hope of a true personal encounter with God.

Nevertheless, He calls. Every Christmas the Baby calls to us again. He calls to us from His innocence. He calls to us from His harmlessness. And ultimately, He calls to us from His power. This God - turned Child - calls to us from the beauty of all that He has done and all that He is. He calls to us in the soft and lovely under tones of Christmas - "Be reconciled to Me; take my hand, and walk with Me."

It is true, of course. We can resist His call. But the bigger question is, "Why would we?" Why would we not rather completely give ourselves to Him who is so willing to so completely give Himself to us?

Surely, when Christmas calls to us again this year, it is a far better thing to say to those worldly distractions and to those cynical voices in our head, "Stop, I have to take this. It is God's love calling." May the true call of Christmas reach the level of - irresistible - in your heart this year.