News and Views

The Wonder Of Christmas

World War II still raged. The electrical power lines had not yet snaked across the land to most of rural Alberta, so there were no electric lights on the Christmas tree festooned with bright red garlands, shiny glass balls, a few homemade ornaments, hundreds of individually placed shiny tinsel icicles, and a shiny gold star at the top.

Ruthie would not turn two for more than six seeks, but already she had declared her unique and unpredictable approach to life, so her family had no idea how she would react to this first Christmas tree since she was mobile. Would she run to it, try to take things off it? They opened the door to let Ruthie see it, and waited with bated breath. Ruthie stopped still when she saw the tree, and softly repeated over and over, “Oooooh, pretty, pretty!” The wonder of Christmas.

Ellie, the oldest in her family, was seven, and she thought that she had Santa figured out. She thought that Mommy was Santa, and she was worried this Christmas eve because Mommy was in the hospital with a brand new baby sister. If Santa didn’t come, she would understand, but her younger brother, five, and her little sister, four, would be so disappointed. She obediently hung her stocking out before she went to bed, as Daddy told the children to do, but Ellie was worried. Christmas morning came, and the stockings were overflowing with the usual toys, candy, a big red apple in the toe, a Mandarin orange, a stack of books. Ellie was amazed, puzzled and oh, so happy. Santa Claus had come even though Mommy was in the hospital. The wonder of Christmas.

Every family has its favourite stories of children and the wonder of Christmas, but as the children get older, often the wonder seems to wear out and Christmas becomes a bit ... blah. As in every other area, the glitter and glitz and gifts cease to satisfy. Sadly, the account of that first miraculous Christmas becomes overly familiar, loses its sense of wonder, and is tarnished by the broader society’s claim that it is merely a myth.

However, the genuine wonder of Christmas is, and always will be, in the reality of that first Christmas, in the wonder of God and His love, power, humility, grace and mercy.

The wonder began when God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, “created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27 NIV) Jesus said, “God is spirit.” (John 4:24 NIV) and spirit is invisible, so people are not a physical, visible image of God, but rather our invisible soul and spirit image, in a very limited way, the limitless characteristics, abilities and attributes of God. There is a vast distance between us as images of God and God Himself in all His greatness, a distance so huge that we cannot completely comprehend it. God created people, you and I, in His image to be His companions and friends giving glory to Him. How wonderful, and how humbling.

When those first people decided to disobey God, to rebel against Him, to do what they wanted to do instead of doing His will, God’s image within them became distorted, darkened and misused, and the relationship with Him was severed, both in them and in all following generations. The wonder is that God continued to love people. As Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8 NIV)

God’s love for us excites our awe, wonder and amazement. Why should He still love people, love us, when we all reject Him and goodness to do what we want instead of what He wants? Why is our reconciliation with Him so important to Him that He is willing to take our penalty upon Himself? Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom.3:23 NIV) and, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom.6:23 NIV) God’s love, the wonder of Christmas.

What a wonder that God’s love and means of reconciliation comes to us in the birth of a baby boy, a special baby boy who was fathered by God Himself, not a by a man. Considering that God created all that exists, it is certain that He had no problem arranging a virgin birth. However, think about His humility as He willingly spent nine months in a young woman’s womb, then arrived in a shelter for animals. God’s humility, the wonder of Christmas.

Jesus, born Son of God and Son of Man, born to be our Saviour and our Lord, the greatest gift ever given. This Christmas, will you ignore Jesus like an unopened gift left under the Christmas tree, or will you open your heart to Him and let Him come in; experience Jesus as the reason for the season; experience Jesus as the Wonder of Christmas?

May each and every one have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas filled with the wonder of God’s love.

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