Christmas has always captivated me. Whether it is the shorter, darker, and colder days, the festivities and décor, the unique and special music that is Christmas, I love it all. I am continually in awe of Christmas. What captivates me the most though is the biblical account of Christmas. During the last number of weeks I have spent a considerable amount of time processing what it is about the Bible’s version of Christmas that grabs my heart, soul, and mind. Simply put, there is nothing more profound than Christmas.
Christmas…it is a story.
There is no story like the Christmas story. The plot is intricately detailed and well developed while the characters are divinely rich in both personality and diversity. There are political, cultural, and relational tensions throughout. It is a complicated love story as well as a thriller filled with treachery and deceit. Amid the drama and tension of it all, the story also explores issues of poverty, wealth, and power. Finally, the Christmas story has an unmistakably pervasive supernatural thread that runs from beginning to end. Without a doubt it is the work of master storyteller but it is so much more than just the effort of a talented and creative literary genius. To say it is just a story does not even come close to doing it justice.
Christmas…it is an historical narrative.
Christmas is also recorded history. The biblical recorders of the Incarnation wrote with precision and unmistakable clarity. They took the upmost care in gathering eye-witness details and preserving them in written form. The birth of Jesus which we celebrate on Christmas is as well-attested to as any other event that is preserved and taught as history. In the same way that saying Christmas is story doesn’t do it justice, neither does merely calling it “history”. The fact of the matter is that the Christmas story is more than just “fact”, much more indeed.
Christmas…it is theology.
It can be said that any historical account and story is “expressed theology”. If God is truly God and that He is truly the Sovereign Lord then nothing within the present, history past, or history future is not in some way “theology”. The Christmas story though, is supremely far and away, above and beyond, the day to day life of God’s hand on His creation. God has always, in every age of the earth, been a personal God and intimately, personally involved with every aspect of His creation. He has unmistakably revealed Himself, making Himself known when without His initiative He would be unknowable. He has dynamically intervened and orchestrated world events socially, politically, and geologically. The Christmas account, while of the same character and purpose, was distinctly different than the work of God in the past. In one sense, it could be said that Christmas is the pinnacle of theology. At Christmas, God came to earth in human form and lived the full human existence. The omnipresent One willingly contained Himself within space and the eternal One submitted Himself to stepping into the human experience of time. The Creator became the creation. He did the unthinkable and unimaginable so that He could live and then die as one of us so that He could rescue us from the Heavenly Father’s wrath and judgment on our sin. He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. He did so out of His great love and mercy so that we would be the beneficiaries of His unfathomable grace, and thus be reconciled to our Creator.
While there are many traditions related to the Winter Solstice with many reasons to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another, there is nothing like Christmas. May we all revel in the story, marvel at the history, and be overwhelmed by the theology of what is traditionally celebrated on December 25th.