Thursday, December 19, 2013

The true meaning of Christmas

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world (1 John 4:9).

What is the true meaning of Christmas?  Is it love, generosity, the importance of friends and family?  Is it kindness, acceptance, the honoring of long-held traditions?  The true meaning of Christmas can be expressed with just one word—incarnation.  Incarnation is when something intangible is given bodily form.  A poet might have a beautiful notion about love; when he writes it down in verse his idea becomes incarnate.  A designer might have a wonderful idea for making life better; when the product is finally manufactured, his dream has become incarnate.  Incarnation makes it possible for us to experience things which are otherwise invisible and untouchable. 

On the very first Christmas, God became incarnate for us.  God is spirit, something our five sense cannot locate, identify or measure.  Although it is He who gives us life, love, and all good things, we stumble through our days questioning the whys and wherefores of our existence.  We wonder where we came from, what we’re supposed to be doing, and what the end of life will bring for us.  Because we cannot sense God in any material way, those questions go unanswered.  Unless things are changed, we are doomed to spend eternity lost and alone in the darkness of ignorance, pain and terrible despair.

Such a fate is not what God had in mind when He created us.  So He sent His Son to become incarnate for us.  In the womb of a virgin, God wrapped Himself in the tissue of a little child named Jesus.  Over nine months He grew and developed as all humans do.  When He was born it was in a stable, the only accommodations available to weary travelers who were far from home, and a manger served as His first earthly bed. 

Christmas is not about the exchange of gifts.  Christmas is not about finding comfort in cherished family traditions.  Christmas is about the incarnation of God among us.  Think about that!  The eternal God comes to earth to be born.  The King of the World comes to earth and His first hours are spent in a cattle shed.  The mighty Creator of All reveals Himself to us as a helpless newborn child.  The Prince of Heaven is greeted by shepherds arrived dirty from the pasture.  Incarnate as a man, God came to become one with us so we might see Him, touch Him, know Him, trust in Him. God became incarnate to gather us in His arms and declare us as His own. That’s the true meaning of Christmas.

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