It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Really.
I have always loved Christmas…for many reasons, many of which are purely sentimental…sounds, smells, the chill in the air (don’t mock me…although its not as chilly as other places, it can get cold in So. CA…sometimes), the family gatherings and the singing of Christmas carols in both English and Russian, Starbucks Christmas blend and Holiday beverages, picking out a real Christmas tree, traditions like Twohey’s and Cheesecake Factory at Fashion Island…Christmastime at Disneyland…Jack learning the words to Christmas songs this year (see previous post)…and I could go on…
But this Christmas season, I have been particularly struck by the mystery of Christ’s birth…the complexity yet simplicity of prophecy fulfilled and God’s sovereign plan to “rescue” mankind. I have been amazed by the connection between the manger and the cross, and the love our good God displayed.
My Aunt Ellen gave Jack “The Jesus Storybook Bible” last year, and we love it (thanks, Aunt Ellen!). Like most kid Bibles, it covers the main stories in words little ones can understand. But what I really appreciate about this one is that every story points to Jesus…and as we have read through it, I have found myself marveling at the reality that the whole Bible is really ABOUT JESUS…it’s amazing, really. (Yes, I am almost 30 and have read the Bible or had it read to me for as long as I can remember, yet I am still amazed at that fact.) This Bible often speaks of Jesus as “The Rescuer.”
At the end of the story of Adam and Eve, for example…the fall of man…the first sin that caused mankind to even need a rescuer…this is what it says:
“Well, in another story, it would all be over, and that would have been the end. But not in this story. God loved his children too much to let the story end there. Even though He knew He would suffer, God had a plan — a magnificent dream. One day, He would get His children back. One day, He would rescue them. One day, He would make a perfect home for them again.
And one day, He would wipe away every tear from their eyes.
You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love His children —
with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
And though they would forget Him, and run from Him, deep in their hearts,
God’s children would miss Him always, and long for Him — lost children yearning for their home.
Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: ‘It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!’
And He would. One day, God Himself would come.”
Side note: Ryan says they took a few liberties in this Bible storybook that may not be entirely theologically accurate. However, I still love it…I love the way it is filled with HOPE. The HOPE of the Gospel…the HOPE of God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
I think my favorite Christmas CD this year is Michael W. Smith’s It’s a Wonderful Christmas. If you don’t have it, you should buy it. I love the lyrics to trac #7, especially these:
Lift up your heads, all who wander in darkness,
Shine for your light has come.
Down through the ages, though sin’s battle rages, Christ, our Messiah has won!
Sing Noel, sing Hallelujah! Come adore on bended knee.
Sing Noel, lift high His praises, Christ, come to set us all free.
Christ, come to set us all free!
Kinda makes my getting stressed out today about finishing my last-minute-Christmas-to-do-list seem pretty silly…