Let's Be Christmas
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1.1 NIV)
And the Word became flesh (John 1.14), he took on bones and breath, he had eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mouth to speak. Hands to heal, and feet to take him where’er he need be.
And the Word, Jesus, he moved into the neighborhood and that’s what we call Christmas. It’s more than just the birth of Christ. It’s the announcement that God-turned-flesh, Jesus, our Savior, he has arrived and he’s living amongst us. He’s walking with us. He’s breathing new life into you and into me. And through it all he’s given us a new way to live.
Some of our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world describe it like this. They say the Father breathes the Word into the world. The Father–Holy Spirits–Jesus into the world. The breath of God is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is Jesus. Christmas is what happened when The Father Holy Spirited Jesus into the world.
He came preaching a Gospel of salvation expressed through love (Galatians 5.6). Echoing the Deuteronomy 6 call, Jesus with firm conviction tells us the most important commandment is this:
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12.29–30 NIV)
This is the Word of the Lord. This is Jesus.
And Jesus, the Word, he said there is a commandment that is likewise:
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12.31 NIV)
Jesus, the Word made flesh, tells us what it is that he requires of us. It’s to love God with all that we are and to express it by loving people with all that we have. It is to give up our ways of selfish love for Christ's ways of sacrificial love. This very surrender is what leads to eternal life. God sent Jesus into this damaged world because he loves us and he’s sending us into the world likewise.
Christmas, it is a celebration of the God who reaches across time and space, across political, social, and ethnocentric divides to be a light, our hope, and perfect love in this world. Therefore, there is no better way to celebrate this Christmas season than to be a part of what God does through Jesus in our homes, in our communities, in our schools, and in our places of work.
Let us choose to be Christmas in the world this year. Givers of love, and of hope, and of light. Let us follow the example of God by being cities on the hill, visible for all to see, reflecting the very story of Christmas itself, that Emmanuel, that God is with us.
Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus entered this world as a servant and if we are to be Christmas to those around us, we must do likewise.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.5–8 NIV)
And just as Christ came to serve and not be served, may we be the people of God who truly believe that it is more blessed to give, than to receive. May our eyes, our ears, and our mouths be used to give, and may our hands and our feet be used to bless the stranger, our family, and our friends.
God’s Christmas gift to us is that of Christ and the way he sees, hears, and speaks about the present and the future. It’s about the way he used his hands and feet to save us from all the King Herod’s who would do us harm. This Christmas, be the gift to others that Christ has been to you.
The Messiah has given us 5 gifts that we can continually give to others, even when we don’t have money to spend. These gifts are limitless and priceless. They are worth more than silver and gold. Truly, their only limit is you.
Gift One. Our Eyes. When the Father breathed Jesus into this world, he saw people who needed rescue. Who needed love. Who needed a light to show them a new way, that there was something better out there. In overwhelming compassion, The Father sent his one and only Son into the world, that the world might be saved if they would just believe (John 3:16).
When we see our families and our friends, when we encounter the stranger in need, may our eyes see and our hearts feel the compassion that the Father felt when the Son was sent into the world. I pray that our love would be likewise. May we not turn blind eyes to those the Father above has placed in our path this Christmas, but instead, may we have the eyes of Jesus who looks for anyone and everyone that needs some Christmas in their lives.
By opening our eyes extra wide this Christmas, we might just bless someone who usually goes unnoticed and that might just change their world forever. Sometimes knowing we are not alone makes all the difference in the world. Let us use our eyes as a gift this Christmas to behold the Word-made-flesh, to see others as God sees them, and let us keep our eyes open for those need God-with-us.
Gift Two. Our Ears. There is no doubt in my mind, that when the Father sent the son into the world, he was hearing the call of those who were crying out for him. May we pause and hear the call of those oppressed. May we pause and hear each other’s cries, the voices of those in need, those being pressed down by the stressors of life, those who need Christmas, Christ with us, in their own lives. It might mean stopping what we are doing at work and listening for the needs of our coworkers. It might mean doing a little less talking, and a little more listening to family and friends around us.
For you see, a listening ear may be the best gift someone receives this Christmas. In this, may our ears be like that of the Jesus we serve, the Jesus who turned his ears towards all whom he loved. When we stop this Christmas season to ask someone how they are doing, or if they need help with anything, I ask the Father to help us do just that—to pause, to take time out of our own busyness, and to attend to others like the Good Shepherd would.
Gift Three. Our Mouths. Now some of you are thinking, "Oh yeah, like kissing under the Mistletoe." As fantastic as that is, that's not what I'm talking about. As God breathed Jesus, the Word, into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit, may he do likewise in our lives. May he fill our voices with words that reflect the Spirit of Christmas itself. May we surrender our words to the message that Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Instead of words guided by anger, frustration, or stress this Christmas season, may the words of our mouths imitate the words of Christ. It is so very easy to be full of criticism and cynicism during Christmas because of crowded malls, traffic jams, family feuds, and sometimes simply bad memories tied to the Holidays. But may his praise be what comes forth from our lips, words that glorify God instead of words that detract from the message that God has arrived and he's with us.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3.9–10 NIV)
This Christmas, give someone the gift of words that heal, encourage, and build up instead of words that tear down. When you encounter the grump, speak words to build them up. When you encounter someone sour, speak words to them that are sweet to chew on. Above all else, use your words as a gift to love others like Christ used his words to love us.
Gift Four. Our Hands. More than seeing, more than listening, and more than speaking, it's the hands of Christ that truly leaves us in awe. It's perhaps the words of Isaiah that give us the most beautiful and inspiring description for the hands of our Messiah.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... (Isaiah 49:16 NIV)
Jesus has etched our names into the palms of his hands. Christmas, it is about the birth of a Messiah who has given us the chance to be born again, not of flesh and blood, but of spirit, so we could eternally dwell with him. The birth of Christ signals God making a new way for us, the ability to be born into a new life with a new way of loving God, a new way of loving our family and friends. Because of the birth of the Messiah, we can love in such a way that it that this love will last forever.
Jesus orchestrated this new way of life with his hands. With his hands, he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and even paid the ultimate price. Jesus taught us that there is no greater love than the one who lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Christ’s hands are a testament to this. Suspended between the heavens and the earth, a baby grown into Messiah-King embraced suffering, sin, and death so we could embrace God, stranger, family, and friend.
Use your hands this Christmas to deliver a warm embrace. Use them to help someone in need. Lay your hands on someone in prayer and speak on their behalf to our Heavenly King. Actions are truly louder than words and it’s our hands that deliver meals, offer comfort to the sick, and embrace the hurting. Our hands are a reminder of all that Jesus has done for us. Use them as a gift to continue spreading his love.
Gift Five. Our Feet. I am reminded of the Last Supper when I think of the gift of feet. In one of Christ’s ultimate teaching moments, he presents himself as a servant’s servant and he washes his disciples feet. It was the ultimate act of Jesus getting his hands dirty to prove his love for those he served before taking on the cross.
Christmas, God-with-us, it is the celebration of God coming into the world so he could rescue the world. It was his feet that steadied him and took him wherever he needed to go as he used his eyes, ears, mouth, and hands to deliver the gift of life to others.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV)
Use the gift of your feet to step up and be present, to be a light, to be an image of God’s love this Christmas. Use your feet to take you wherever God may lead you. Use them to step out of your comfort zone. This Christmas, gift someone with Christ’s presence through you.
This Christmas, may we enter the world as Christ entered the world, with a Servants Heart. May we see the world like Jesus sees the world. May we give the gift of a listening ear this December. May we use our words to build up instead of complain. May we use our hands and our arms to embrace and may we use our feet to go: Proclaiming that Emmanuel, God has arrived, God is with us, and that he’s come bearing gifts.