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Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas musings: For we shall see Him

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I am one of *those* people who goes all out with the lights, greenery, bells, constant Christmas music in the background and incessant prayers for snow. Christmas was always a big deal in my family growing up. We had so many fun traditions, such as caroling with friends and reading the Christmas story together as a family. I remember one year all of us kids tried to put on a play detailing our own version of the Nativity story (because what Christian kid hasn't?!). Our fat old cat, Snickelfritz, was not pleased to play the part of the Baby Jesus, but he laid there and played dead because we'd put him in a doll dress and he could barely move. AAAAaaaah the memories...

Another tradition that I cherished was hearing my father sing at church. Y'all, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my Daddy can SING. I grew up wishing I could sing like him, and I tried a few times, but he has a God-given talent I just didn't inherit. One of my all-time favorite songs that he regularly sang during the Christmas season was the hit song "Mary, did you know?" by Mark Lowry. I LOVE THAT SONG. As a kid, I loved the haunting melody and the lovely harmonies. Now that I'm a mother myself, the words have also taken on a whole new meaning to me. Here are a few lines that are particularly poignant:

"Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you...
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God."

CHILLS. I know Mary had faith and she trusted God's plan despite all the pain and heartbreak it would bring. But did she fully comprehend that plan? How much did God really reveal to her over the years? The Bible mentions several times that she "stored up" or "cherished" things in her heart. But what were her thoughts as she sat at the foot of the cross just 32 years after that fateful night in the stable? Not to be flippant, but can you imagine kissing "the face of God," as Mary did, knowing God's plan for His future?

Every Christmas has a bit of a dark cloud when you read the Bible story and truly comprehend Christ's purpose. Yes, He was born a baby to a faithful young virgin in a stable surrounded by animals and shepherds. It was a glorious night, but it was a night that began a 32-year journey to the cross. I wish I could've been there that night. I wish I could've seen the star, heard the angels, celebrated with the humble shepherds, and quietly took it all in as Mary did. I wish I could kiss that sweet little face and know what it must feel like to love and hold the Savior of the world as a human being. I long for the chance to physically hug God. I know it probably sounds weird, but I really do. 

This morning as my hips ached and my toddler slapped me in the face again in her sleep, I abandoned all hope for further sleep myself and dragged my oh-so-pregnant body to the kitchen. I decided I would search for an Advent-focused devotional online and spend some much needed quiet time with God. Once again, Google did not disappoint and I stumbled across Cissie Graham-Lynch's "Born to you this Day." It is well-written and thought-provoking, but what really hit me was the list of Biblical prophecies about Jesus' birth and identity. Within that list I found a golden nugget that promises to become one of my new favorite verses:

"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed, 
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!"

What does this mean and how does it relate to the Christmas story? Just this: we may never fully understand what Mary and Joseph went through that cold, dark night; however, we will someday get to see our sweet Redeemer, in the flesh, with our own eyes! I love that last line of verse 27 because I am truly "overwhelmed at the thought!" See, Christmas (rather, the birth of Christ) wasn't just about a little baby that came into the world just to die horrifically in the prime of His life. No! Christ's birth was about a tiny baby who grew into the most wonderful, loving, powerful man the earth had ever and would ever know. A tiny baby who, yes, would die horrifically, but would then come back to life only three days later. Triumphant! A conqueror! The Redeemer! 

1 John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, we are already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is." It's true that we cannot physically see Him the way his family and followers did. But we will! That, to me, is what Christmas is really all about. Our Redeemer came into this earth a tiny, humble baby and left a triumphant conqueror whose sacrifice and love guarantee us an unimaginably wonderful eternity. 

Friends, I hope you are able to carve out time this Christmas season to reflect on these thoughts. Our modern Christmas celebrations are often overtaken by long lines, bad traffic, groaning bank accounts, and But please, take the time both alone and with your families to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. That is, Christ. Not only is He "the reason for the season," He's the source of joy, peace, and fulfillment for which we all long to experience. 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Hapless but hopeful,

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