Christmas: Joy, Wonder & Longing

In a break from Worship Arts Ministry thoughts… a Christmas reflection.


Rightly seen, Christmas is a season experienced with joy, wonder, and longing.

Joy

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….delight in glittering lights and sweets and festive songs and indulgent foods and sleigh bells and tinsel. Hearty laughter with family and friends at gatherings and parties.

But a deeper joy for those who understand the birth of Christ would lead to freedom from sin and death, adoption into God’s family and the now and not yet of Emmanuel – God with us.


Wonder

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….a sense of mystery and that anything might be possible at Christmas – from waking up early to see if gifts had been secretly slipped into stockings and guessing at what’s under the wrapping – to evening drives through the snow-draped neighborhoods to see the warm glow of outdoor lights while Johnny Mathis and the Carpenters play on the car stereo. Wonder at the kindness and generosity of strangers to help their fellow man.

And a deeper wonder at the words,

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 CSB

And Isaiah’s prophecy that this child would, in fact, be called Emmanuel – God with us.

Wonder, that the eternal God of all the universe would humble Himself and take on Himself our broken flesh to ultimately restore our broken relationship with Him by his life, death and resurrection.

“When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 CSB

Staggering awe that God would do this not because we deserved it, or He owes it – but because of His immeasurable love.

“But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 CSB

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him —” Colossians 1:19-22 CSB

When we begin to grasp and embrace this truth our hearts are naturally left in awe and wonder that God – perfect in all He is and does – would do this for messed-up, belligerent, broken, rebellious us.


Longing

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…there must be more.

For believer and unbeliever alike, amidst the joy and wonder, at Christmas, there remains a longing –

Longing for mended family relationships,

Longing for a spouse,

Longing for children,

Longing for healing,

Longing for freedom from addictions,

Longing for home and provision and shelter and safety

Longing to be loved and accepted and truly known

And a deeper longing

for peace on earth; for things to be made right. An end to war and death and famine and hatred and conflict and every hurtful thing.

Because Christ has literally, physically risen and promised to return, this is longing is for the Lord to return and set up His perfect kingdom; for the Age when all is Christmas joy and delight and wonder, love and praise…..because of Easter.

“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”” Revelation 21:3-5 CSB

May your Christmas this year be filled with joy, wonder, and longing.

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Reni, ‘Adoration of the shepherds’ – London National Gallery

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