Welcome to December and the time in which Christians celebrate the Advent season, the weeks that precedes Christmas Eve. During the next four weeks, we wait with anticipation for the baby Jesus to be born in a manger surrounded by animals, with a bright star in the sky marking the spot of the holy birth. The well-known story continues with angels singing hosanna to the shepherds as they announce the Christ child’ birth in a nearby stable. All of the blessed events happen to a engaged couple known as Mary and Joseph. It is a wondrous story that outshines all of the other holiday hoopla and one that has been celebrated for over 2000 years and counting.
In order for us to be Easter people, we must also recognize that we are Christmas people too. The baby, born in a manger with the shepherds and animals was God. Yes, Jesus is God’s-self revealed. When I first heard Jesus described in that way it caught me off guard because even though I believed in the Trinity, I thought that Jesus was Jesus and God was God. However God’s self-revelation began with the promise found in the Gospel of Matthew, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”), (vs 23). Think about that for just a moment. The baby who was born in a barn, to a young woman named Mary, was God. This Immanuel came to us, to be with us, live like us; experience joy, sadness, love, grief, anger and everything that comes with being human, like us. As many of us read the birth story every year, we gain a better understanding of just how important this little babe is to us. The angels knew as they rejoiced at his birth. The shepherds, who were the outsiders, knew too as they looked upon the face of God. By giving this opportunity to the shepherds, who were the lowest of the low, God was drawing attention to the people who were the people on the fringes and lost, lowly and unloved. This infant child grew into a man who offered hope for all people to experience his a new way of love, grace and mercy. All people regardless their of gender, economic status, creed, race or sexual orientation matter to God.
Christians who are mainly focused on the cross and the sacrifice of God’s Son at Easter can loose sight of the miraculous birth at Christmas, which happened first. The redemption fulfilled at Easter needs to be viewed through the sacrifice of God coming to earth, at Christmas. the baby who became one of us so that the human side of God’s nature could be known. This is what is so special about the season of Advent. We are given an opportunity to reflect on God’s choice to be Immanuel, “God with us” and celebrate the Christ child born in a humble manger as a Savior for all believers. In this time of waiting for the holy birth let us give thanks for the wonder of Christmas and the babe called Immanuel.