With the lights dimmed and the table set for a quiet Christmas Eve dinner in-between watching our favorite holiday movies, we set our eyes on the true meaning of Christmas. Above the fun, laughter, entertainment, and gifts is a promise as old as the universe, fulfilled in the birth of a perfect, knowable, and eternal King who is for everyone, everywhere.
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”Luke 1:31-33 (NLT)
As we sat down for dinner, each member of our family took a turn lighting a candle symbolic of the promises of God in his advent, or “coming”. The first candle represented the promise of “hope”, a perfect trust in all future things because of who he is — all seeing, knowing, and doing through all eternity. The second candle represented the promise of “peace”, salvation from the evil of this world and deliverance from our fears. The third candle represented “joy”, a state of contentment and happiness that transcends the circumstances of life. The fourth represented “love”, God’s unconditional embrace and unrelenting commitment to caring and providing for the needs of his children. And finally, the fifth candle represented the final promise of God, the Messiah — the “Christ” — Jesus. It’s through this final promise in God’s “advent” that the other four are made possible for everyone, everywhere.
Jesus is the righteous King that rules with justice above all powers and authorities for all eternity. Jesus is the Shepherd who graciously leads his sheep to safe and green pastures. Jesus is the holy Victor who binds up evil, pushes back darkness, and abolishes the finitude of death for his people. Only in Jesus Christ — God’s one and only “Son of the Most High” — is perfect hope, peace, joy, and love made possible. Jesus is reason we celebrate Christmas.
Through these moments of grace the candles of God’s promises are lit in our life, leading us to the One who makes perfect hope, peace, joy, and love possible now and forever.
The contentment we feel when we are with family, the happiness we experience when we receive gifts from others, the pleasure we feel when we give to others, and the satisfaction we enjoy when we eat and laugh together are real and worthy of locking into our memories. Although these are only temporary experiences that last for a moment, they are not without purpose. They are reflections of the heavenly divine, given as a grace, that act as tangible sign posts pointing us towards redemption and restoration in God’s promised Kingdom. Through these moments of grace (and ones like them) the candles of God’s promises are lit in our life, leading us to the One who makes perfect hope, peace, joy, and love possible now and forever — Jesus Christ.
Christmas is the celebration of God’s eternal love for all people in all places. Christmas is the unveiling of God’s salavation, rescue, and victory over sin and death through a perfect and righteous King. Christmas is the turning point in the history of creation and the cosmos that invites everyone, everywhere to be part of a Kingdom that will never end and the soul never dies. This is why we celebrate Christmas — the fulfilled promises of God come alive and are given to those who turn from their ways and put their faith in the ways of Jesus Christ alone.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!