And yet, Christmas still comes. While our modern American Christmas has been completely unraveled, the steady reliability of times and seasons continues. Some things, even under the direst circumstances, remain.
But how can we sing “Joy to the World” this year? The twinkling lights, the trees, the stockings hung by the chimney show that we press through hard things, find hope in darkness, and seek brighter days to come. We haven’t given up. Even when we’re not really feeling it, we go through the motions, because we are beginning to realize, perhaps for the first time, the powerful depth of familiar tradition.
What is the source of this depth? Certainly not the lights, the trees, or the stockings. These things represent joy-filled festivities, celebrations, and family, but they are not the things themselves. The peace, hope, and joy of Christmas that stirs our souls and inspires our imaginations must come from something much more solid, more substantial. Without this substance, the superficial symbols of Christmas fade into the shadows of what they really are: the trappings of an annual ritual that has become devoid of its true meaning.
But this year, we have been humbled. We are not as in control as we thought we were. This humbling, rather than discourage us, should inspire us to celebrate a humble Christmas focused on our humble Savior.
Our Supernatural Hope
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself by taking on human flesh so that he could live the perfect life that we could never live. And then He died, the perfect sacrifice, to appease the wrath of God that we could never satisfy. Christ’s humility is not just an example for us to follow. It is our calling into restored relationship with the Father and into holy living thereafter. How? Because God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Amazing love of this magnitude does not come from inside of us or from the external trappings of Christmas. It cannot. It is not inspired by warm holiday decorations, greetings, or rituals. It must come from an outside source. A supernatural one. Only a God above nature could transform our nature into the image of His Son. This supernatural transformation does not simply happen. It must be enacted upon willing hearts, hearts softened to the reality of our sin and our need for a Savior.
As we reflect on our lives in 2020, so transformed by outside circumstances beyond our control, let us also reflect on the life-changing transformation Christ brings to each heart that trusts in Him. That, dear friends, is the deep source of true joy that gives hope for every Christmas, especially the hard ones.
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”