THE GOOD NEWS: God shows us mercy instead of punishment
The Christmas season has come and gone. Epiphany has come!
Even so, let’s take a moment to reflect one last time on the Christmas that we just celebrated. How excited we get as it’s coming, but now that it’s gone, we’re already over it. It doesn’t last for us. Christmas isn’t impressive to the human nature.
To the senses it looks like any other day of the year. Why wait till Christmas for what I can buy whenever I want?
Luke 2, verses 1-20 tell of the birth of Jesus. Of course, Christmas wasn’t created for the commercial aspect of it, but consider the real Christmas so many years ago. What did that look like?
Mary looked like a pregnant woman. Is that something that shocks a person? Nope. They rode to Bethlehem. It was a city like any other. They rode on a donkey. Not so glamorous. There was no inn, so they stayed in a stable. Not so amazing. And there Christ was born.
And what was that like? Well, it presumably looked like a woman giving birth to a baby boy — probably something less than appealing to the eyes, but not something that people hadn’t seen before. And what did Jesus look like? A baby boy.
Something many people had seen before. The birth of Jesus is so typical in these physical ways that the Bible gives no details on it. It just says that it happened. Jesus was born in the same way every other child is born, at least to the human senses.
By all physical senses and logical reasoning, this is nothing special. This isn’t something impressive. In fact, it’s kind of boring! The human ears grow tired of having to hear the Nativity story again. The human eyes get so used to seeing Nativity scenes set up that we gloss over them. The human mouth gets so tired of singing Christmas hymns that we tune out.
To the human flesh, Christmas is boring! It’s all been done before and nothing about it really stands out.
Yet, isn’t this typical of God? Doesn’t He often work in manners that are less than impressive to the human senses? Throughout history he spoke by prophets. They weren’t anything special in appearance. They were just men.
And what did they speak? Words. God’s Word, but to the human ear, just words.
Now He works on Christmas through a girl named Mary. Just a girl. She wasn’t a superhero. She was a young maiden and she gave birth, as many young women do. Her son was a boy, as all sons are. He grew up into a man, just like all other men do. Again, to the senses God works in manners quite unimpressive.
Even today He works like this. In Word, Water, Bread and Wine; all common and everyday things. But with God, they are powerful.
This is the power of God and the faith He has given us. He comes to us in ordinary means. A young woman giving birth to a baby boy. That boy grew up, like men do. And by His Word He gave faith and healing, life and salvation. He died. Something unimpressive of a God.
Yet we believe it all. We believe that word. We know by it that Christmas is more than another typical day that we grow bored with. It’s the day of Christ’s birth. Something typical to the eye, but glorious enough for the angels to sing!
We know that this water, something standard to the touch, is something so powerful with God’s Word. Something powerful enough that even God Himself was baptized to save us. Something so strong that God’s Word, in more ways than one, says that Baptism saves you!
We partake of bread and wine, but knowing that it’s Christ’s body and blood. Very typical to the tongue, but so mysterious and powerful with God’s Word. Powerful enough to forgive our sins.
He does this all through His Word spoken to you by an ordinary sinful man, your pastor. Someone whom we all know is flawed like everyone else, but we also believe by God’s Word that God uses to deliver salvation.
So despite what our ears and eyes would report, Jesus Christ, Christmas, His death and resurrection, none of it bores us. It impresses us! Christ is more impressive that we can understand. We believe it. We are made impressed by our faith and the Spirit. We are made to know why Christmas is so astounding!
For it is the birth of our salvation. Our everlasting life was won by Christmas. By Christ. By His death and resurrection. And we know that just as Christmas comes to put an end to the season of waiting that is Advent, so will Christ come again to put to an end the season of Advent that is our earthly lives, when He comes to bring us to be with Him forever.
The Christmas season may be gone for the year, but the meaning and reward of it lasts forever.
The Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.