|by Wes Riddle||Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 06:06 AM|
When I think of Christmas, I think of joy: joy at what the holidays bring; and also Joy for what the Christ Child means. Some of my fondest memories are of Christmastime when I was a child. There is the family Christmas tree and the ritual of picking it, setting it up and decorating; and hours and hours of enjoyment looking at the decorations and lights on the tree, squinting to produce still more effects. Listening to the beautiful carols you can’t play enough, because they only come out once each year; contemplating the bright, paper-wrapped packages beneath the tree and wondering what the smaller, bulgy knick-knacks at the bottom of stockings hung might be. For me there were also favorite trips we took that time of year—to snow-covered peaks of the Rockies in
The fact of the Virgin Birth meant God not only knew about us on earth, but He also cared for us supremely. He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus awakened the soul in man, activated his conscience, and made him aware of the eternal aspect of his nature. After Jesus, there were no excuses—but there was hope. God would not leave us lost or abandoned; but instead He sent Jesus, the Way-Shower. Jesus’ Birth signaled that physical conditions and limitations were no object, that we might follow Jesus in overcoming the world. For God the Loving Father—omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent—the One who fills all space, is all knowing and all-powerful dwelt among us, not only as the invisible air we breathe but also as another human being we could see and touch and hear. God visited us in Person through His Son, and His presence changed the world that was. History would never be the same.
Jesus ransomed the world, even after betrayal and unspeakable cruelty—but these experiences of Jesus’ worldly existence would come later. On that first Christmas morn, however, it was simple: a moment of complete and unadulterated Joy. The angels sang, and men from the East followed the Star to
God picked the lowly to frame His surroundings, the pure in heart to witness a miracle and keep Him company on that Day. And ever after, the world’s perspective changed: Love became the highest virtue; and every man felt the worth of his soul as never before. Indeed, our freedom would spring from that singular moment and the knowledge that came from it. Jesus demonstrated by His example and teaching, the moral worth of every single human being. Everyone was a chosen people through adoption. No more waiting—man would have to regard the Father and to consider Eternity in his calculus, its import and implication for life on earth.
Jesus would furnish many examples of the material yielding inevitably and evil submitting involuntarily before Him. But what is amazing is that God would voluntarily submit Himself to be human, that is, to experience the frailty, pain, temptation and all which human condition entails. Perhaps we read too much now into that Nativity Scene—all that’s implied, the growth of a boy, the blossoming of a man, the unparalleled career of the Great Teacher, the Friend and Master of man; His crucifixion and glorious Resurrection. For now, He is a Baby—sweet, undefiled, innocent; and one imagines happy, playful, curious, smiling. For the moment, nothing in the world impinges upon the utter happiness: of Mary the most wonderful Mother, Joseph the model stepfather; and of animals and every creature blessed to behold and gaze upon the sight. There is only Joy, in other words. King Herod has his evil intent and design to try and kill this Child, but for now there’s no threat, no element, no evil thought can penetrate the stronghold of a palace-manger, where the King of kings heralds Good News.
May this Christmas be a time of joy, and Joy. May it please your every sense, including your spiritual sense: to smell the scented candles, the crisp outdoors; to taste the cookies and fancy meats; to listen to a choir singing; and to feast your eyes on colors and soft firelight; but also to feel His Hand in yours, and rest your faith and hope in Him. Amen.
Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and