I saved some photos to share with you – of Christmas in France. I think my original purpose was another of those oh-Europe posts. And to a certain extent there is a subtle leap that happens in my heart when I see these pictures and think I was there, but it seems more apt to reflect on Christmas itself, than certain and specific manifestations of the celebrations.
I’ve wondered, several times this year, about the reason for Christmas lights. I know the paganism behind a lot of the traditions we continue to follow at Christmas. As a Christian it’s an interesting potential dilemma and/or conflict of interest. To be honest I don’t think about it that much because I love the lights and the trees and the bells. It really is a celebration, though even I am often prone to forgetting the Christ behind Christmas (which to so many people has become even irrelevant).
Some lucky photographer shot this image in Strasbourg (yup, was there too), and it appeared on a New York Times page.
The giving is a little harder to forget about Christmas – although advertisers certainly want you to think it’s a time of giving to yourself.
I love finding the perfect gift for someone, and I’m usually on top of things that it doesn’t become a last minute panic type of situation (although wrapping things, that can be another matter).
The good ol’ cliche about Jesus being the greatest gift of all and following the example of the Magi and giving gifts seems a little silly, but I’ll go along with it. Sometimes it’s nice to have an occasion that reminds us to celebrate the people in our lives.
But all the same – it’s not about the people in our lives, it’s about the mind-blowing fact, should you choose to believe it, that God incarnate came to us in the flesh for the express purpose to atone for our sins. I think I love how as I grow older the more I realize that Christmas isn’t just about the birth of Christ – it’s about the fact that Christ’s birth leads us to the Cross.
In the last episode of Bones (which you can watch on Hulu should you be so inclined), I was blown away. In case you’re not interested in watching the whole episode, I’m going to kind of spoil the ending by sharing a quote.
An anti-government character who’s pirate radio station was thought to have caused an unintentional suicide-bomber/robber to blow up, says this to his listeners:
A man died this week. By all accounts he was a good man, loved his mother, worked hard, shouldered his responsibilities. A man that any one of us would be proud to call a friend. I killed him. With this microphone, I killed him by going on these airwaves and sharing my rage with you – spreading the rage. Now you can say that it wasn’t my fault – it was a coincidence, I thought about that, thought about it a lot. But the fact is, the fact is if it weren’t for me, he might still be alive. I’m so sorry for that. And I remembered something that I forgot over the past few years, that God is not only a God of anger and vengeance.
Now my religious beliefs tell me that Christ did not die in vain, that He died to redeem us all. And I intend to show that this good, simple man did not die in vain. That he redeemed one angry shouting man. So these are the last words I will ever broadcast. I hope they’re the words you remember best. Peace on Earth.
This morning as I rode the bus I was listening to a sermon from Covenant Life Church from last year (so I’m behind a little…), and something that stood out to me was the simple fact that if Adam and Eve had not sinned – if Adam had put down the forbidden fruit – Christ would not have come simply because His sacrifice would not have been necessary.
I think the point that I have come to is overwhelming gratitude and awe at the God the Son took on human life only to lay it down so that I might be forgiven.
Maybe this is the epiphany. As Good Friday is a time of mourning for the death of Christ as he took our place in bearing God’s wrath upon sin, and Easter is a time of rejoicing at the victory of Christ over death and Satan, so the Christmas is a time of humility and thanksgiving that God became man in fulfillment of the promise He made in the Garden of Eden.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born…