EA and I were talking awhile ago about how Christmas evaporates as soon as it gets here. We spend about a month and a half getting ready for the holiday season, yet we are typically ready to move on once we hit Boxing Day. It’s a little sad.
I’m presently sitting in a Starbucks in Nashville. There are some mixed flurries outside and the store is still decorated for the holidays, but the music has switched back to the typical mainstream indie soundtrack. Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to move on.
We kind of do that in church services too. I have been to Christmas worship experiences where the moment we get baby Jesus into the manger we’re then ready to put him up on the cross. Part of this has to do with an unfortunate, but common penchant for boiling down the incarnation, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus to just the death.
Of course, the cross is an enormously important part of that story. Yet what would happen if we just lingered for a moment on Christmas? In our world of go, go, go, what if we stopped to dwell on the fact that God came to us in human form as a fragile baby?
The Incarnation is a huge deal. I realize that’s stating the obvious, but it’s a moment fraught with tension and risk and earth-shaking consequence. The God of the Universe touches down on earth, but not as a conquering warrior on a chariot of fire. God comes as possibly the most vulnerable thing humanity can imagine: a newborn child completely dependent on his parents for survival.
God loves us so much that God did not just become one of us but completely submitted to the way that we have to live with all the weakness and peril (and wonder and joy) that entails. How wonderful is that? That is good news. The Kingdom of God collides with the Kingdom of this dusty rock of a planet.
In the church calendar, the Christmas season traditionally lasts until January 6. I think there is a reason for that. The early church leaders did not want us to just skim over the Incarnation.
I know that many people are Christmassed out by this point. You don’t necessarily have to sing carols (some will of course say that we should not sing Christmas carols until the 25th anyway, I’m not in that camp but I digress), keep wishing people a Merry Christmas, or keep your browning tree on life support (though none of those things are bad). Yet I would encourage us to linger on Christmas just a little bit longer. Remember the birth of that baby boy and all the joy and fear that came with it. It changed the world in a awesome, ridiculous, scandalous, and beautiful way.
Let’s not rush away from that. Let’s dwell on the beauty of this season a little bit longer. Happy Christmas.