The wreaths are hung and the tree trimmings have been turned into garland, which were then carefully placed throughout the house. The tree was bought and strung with the just-right amount of white lights. The stockings dangle from the mantle, Bing Crosby Holiday Radio is playing, and the air is filled with cinnamon & berry scented candles. The nativity scene lies atop the bookshelf, where all eyes are on baby Jesus. All signs point to Christmas.
O come, let us adore HIm.
Maybe it’s just me, but fixing my eyes on Jesus seems more difficult over the holidays. Am I looking to Jesus in the midst of the days leading to Christmas, the time of year dedicated to his birth? Or do the twinkling lights and the rampant consumerism and the Santa Clauses on top of cars and the oh-so-delicious peppermint mochas mesmerize me into ignoring the one story that really matters? How ironic it is that a holiday originally about Jesus has turned into chaos of distractions from Jesus. At least, it seems that way sometimes. Particularly so when I look at another yard covered by 52 blowups of snow globes, penguins in scarves, and various Santa Clauses (It wouldn't be the South if you didn’t see Santa dressed as an avid college football fan). But you know the really beautiful thing? God shows up, no matter what. Just like his humble arrival in a manger so many years ago, He is here. And He is glorified.
Joyful and triumphant.
Just as in the nativity scene, I want my eyes to be fixed on Jesus. Not because He needs us to, but because we have the chance for this time of year to be filled with joy and love and never-ending celebrations of the Greatest Story ever told.
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.
It’s a story I know well, but one I never grow tired of hearing.
The Greatest Story ever told is not one of success or power or great wealth. It is one of tears and agony and holiness. It is the kind of story that brings about total surrenders of hearts, in churches and on mountaintops and in Wendy’s parking lots.
The Greatest Story ever told is a story of incredible juxtapositions. Of a newborn babe in a dirty manger, of a carpenter-King, of life made possible through death. The Greatest Story ever told is one of a virgin birth, of Christ becoming both fully man and fully God, of blood pouring from perfect hands, of pure glory emerging from a broken body. It is a story filled with light breaking through darkness and the last becoming first and hope for the hopeless. It is a story of amazing grace.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
There was no room for Him then, but He still came. His beginnings were in a manger, in a small town, in pure humility and perfection. And then everyone made their way to the King. Because from the beginning, He was accessible. He was not born in a castle with guards and gates and servants, but He came next to a field of shepherds, He came to us. The shepherds and the angels and the wise men, they showed up because they knew. They knew about this babe born in Bethlehem. And they wanted to be in the presence of the Messiah.
O come, all ye faithful.