The Nativity

The Christmas tree is perfect. Colorful lights hang from the eaves and sparkle merrily from the trees in our yard. There is a small choir of blow up snowmen caroling near the deck next to an animated reindeer. A row of super-sized candy canes lines the sidewalk and magically illumines the path for Santa to make his way to our house.

I love Christmas decorations – especially the kind that light up when you plug them in and this wonderfully creative homage to the traditions of Christmas makes me happy. But as I step back and survey our winter wonderland display, I notice that something is terribly wrong with this picture. Something’s missing.

Where is the nativity? How does baby Jesus fit into all of this? Is there still a place for the Christ child of Christmas who is after all, the reason for the season? Why is the hope of a hopeless world missing from his “holy day” celebration? If Immanuel means “God with us,” where is he? In the profound words of a seven year-old boy visiting Santa at the mall, “Where’s the line for Jesus?”

As I pondered these questions, I realized that none of us are immune from the powerful influence of the world in which we live. We are often unaware of our tendency to avoid “politically incorrect” references to God, Jesus, and all things religious – even at Christmas. And that’s what is wrong with this picture.

God sent his only son to earth to reconcile us to himself and provide salvation from the penalty of sin to those who had rejected him (you and me). Jesus Christ, the Son of God was born of a virgin and entered our world as a tiny babe with no place to lay his head but on a bed of straw in a manger.

He lived an exemplary life without sin and died a criminal’s death he didn’t deserve after being falsely accused and convicted. His cruel and painful crucifixion paid the death penalty for my sin (and yours) and his resurrection from the dead three days later provided us with new life – a second chance, clean slate, do-over.

The cost of this amazing gift – a simple yet heartfelt step of faith – a choice to believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sin and new life he offers.

As a society, we continue to marginalize God and remove his fingerprints from all aspects of public life. At the same time, a growing sense of hopelessness, helplessness, emptiness, isolation, futility, fear, death, and despair overwhelms us and strips meaning and purpose from our lives.

The “good news of great joy for people everywhere” is a much-needed message in 21st century America. For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. Unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. His name shall be Immanuel – God with us.


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