The Nativity of the Christ
Open Your Bible
Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:14, Galatians 4:4-5
Christmas morning is our most anticipated sunrise of the year. I always have such high hopes for the day. We gather our loved ones around the hearth, and wait for that special gift or the consummation of some nostalgic experience. We hope for our relationships to hum along in perfect Christmas-morning harmony. Every year I find myself shamelessly expecting ordinary humans to produce an absolutely magical tableau of Christmas dreams.
Even though I live with these people and have found them to be deeply negligent when it comes to the matching of socks, I believe that the magic of Christmas will bless them with an ethereal grace. And to my annual dismay, on Christmas morning I am not transformed into a glittering treetop angel, magisterially heralding the good news. In spite of my best efforts, I am still my ordinary and absurd mix of the nonsensical and the severe, even with the smell of cloves and cinnamon in the air.
Once the presents are opened, the festive leftovers refrigerated, and the visitors kissed goodbye, do you find yourself filled? It’s easy to set our hopes on the details of Christmas that don’t ultimately satisfy. Gifts can certainly disappoint, food can go wrong, and visitors can occasionally bring more pain than merriment. Putting all my Christmas expectations on my children’s responses leaves me exhausted and frustrated.
For some of us, the unfulfilled wishes on Christmas morning come from a pain that will never fully recede, as the whole creation has been “groaning together,” awaiting our Savior’s return (Romans 8:22). And as we wait, we miss our beloved darlings who are far away, or those who have gone on before us. Missing them on this day, of all days, seems like an unfair pain to bear year after year. We wake up on Christmas as a needy people. Even if our bellies are filled and the presents are piled up, we do not find satisfaction here. There is something else we all desperately need that can only be found in Christ.
When Christ came, He came to an empty and needy world. He came to a hungry people. When Mary heard the overwhelming news from the angel Gabriel, she declared: “He has satisfied the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53). The first part of the gospel is this: We need. We need life and hope, joy and peace, food and drink, satisfaction and salvation.
The second part of the gospel is this: He satisfies. He knows our needs better than we do, and He is willing to satisfy. He is also able to satisfy. He loves us and gives us Himself, filling us up out of His abundance and meeting our every need. The hurting are comforted, the faces of the lonely lifted up.
I want Christmas morning to be memorable and perfect. And it is, every year, because our joy and peace come from the good news of Christ’s birth. Whether your day includes sugarplums and arguments, or gingerbread and tears—just gather it all together and remember that Christ is our joy, and His people are a glorious mess of contradictions and sloppy kisses. Let people be human, and magnify God as God. Praise the greatness of the Lord, and rejoice in God our Savior! (Luke 1:46–47).