The purpose of Christmas

The tree is lit, ornaments hanging, gifts piled, the homemade nativity scene crowded out by fancy wrapped boxes.  Everyone is waiting. The kids are waiting for about 24 hours from now when they’ll wake up and rip that pretty paper off those boxes and smile at the surprises inside.  My Jesse tree advent readings have us anticipating the birth of the Long-Promised One.

Tomorrow’s the big day, but really the big day already came.  And went.

Mary’s big day came and went to.  She swelled with the Promised One and delivered Him.  She was born a mom that day, but even more, she was born a Christ-bearer.  Christ was born through her.

Like me, she pondered that miracle and just who this Child was.  And we get some hints at what she maybe thought He was.

When those scraggly shepherds came telling her and Joseph what they’d heard from angels she was amazed and pondered what they said in her heart.
And this homemaker at the end of 2012, ponders the Word that has been spoken to me concerning the Christ.
But when an old man waiting to see the Messiah before he died caused Mary and Joseph to marvel when he spoke of this Son’s purpose, he turned to Mary and spoke something to her none of us want to hear about our Christmas gift:
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 
A sign that is opposed.
A sword will pierce through your own soul.
Thoughts from many hearts… revealed.
Is that what I’m anticipating this Christmas?
Is Christ who is born in me, Christ my hope of glory… is He going to be opposed?  Is He going to pierce my own soul?  Is He going to reveal the thoughts of my heart?

Yes lights from the Father of lights. Yes gifts from the Giver of all good gifts who is Himself the Gift.  Yes treats from Him who has given us all things to enjoy.  Yes smiles and laughter and songs from the One in whose right hand are pleasures forevermore.  But first.  But first opposition.  Piercing.  Thoughts revealed.

Yes the joy of the Christ come born as a baby in a cave, in the cold, to a teenage girl and her noble fiance… Love come down to save us.

Yes the laughter and the presents and the goodies.  These are just some the crumbs of the goodness that fall from the feast of His good grace.  These are some effects of Love come down, of God made into flesh.  These are some of the effects of Christmas.  But these aren’t the purpose of Christmas.  The purpose of His coming was first to absorb the poison of our snake-bitten sin and the righteous wrath against it.

Sometimes I think we forget this, not just at Christmas, but everyday.  Christ came.  He died for our sins.  And by just as much a miracle as was done in Mary, He is in me.  Christ in me, the hope of glory.  Yes glory.  But first thoughts revealed, opposition and piercing.  Yes glory is coming, and even now has begun.  Yes everyday can be received as a gift of His goodness and grace with thanksgiving… even the piercing, even the hard to own-up-to thoughts revealed, even the opposition that will come.  Because first His purpose is to conform me to the image of His Son.

Mary thought maybe first His purpose was to set her reputation straight… make more wine.  I’ve thought maybe first His purpose was to ____________________.  You fill in the blank.  Make my marriage happy.  Make my husband understand me.  Make my children appreciate me.  Make more good life.  Make things nice and right and the way they should be. 

Sometimes I read things like, “How long O Lord?  How long?”  And I think of my blank.  All those good things I want.  All those pretty wrapped presents.  But that’s not what He came for the first time.  My, “How long?” gets turned into “As long as it takes Lord!” when I consider that His purpose is to use all things- hard marriages, difficult kids, deaths, illnesses, weakness, poverty, things not right, evil seeming to run rampant, mental illness taking its toll on relationships, hard things- to make me Christ-like.  Then glory.

Christ in me.  The hope of glory.

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? – Luke 24:26

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:4

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

Oh piercing Christmas I want you to just be happy 
Good smells
But You come first revealing
Oh opposed Christmas I want you to just be accepted
But You come first dying
Oh miraculous Christmas I want you to just take over
God among Us
But You come first propitiating

Glory is coming
You gave us a glimpse
A New Man raised
Reconciliation commenced



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