What has changed is that my spirit has expanded to embrace a miracle greater than a virgin birth or a star to announce the arrival of Messiah. At one time, this is where the inconsistency laid. I knew He came as a baby to save us from our sins and that compels us to commemorate, remember, celebrate and acknowledge him. Christmas always been for you Jesus. Because of you Jesus. Unto you Jesus. It is different now.
Christmas is for me. Quietly and slowly over those years that began at his first cry of mortal life, I stopped being caught up in the fact of his birth for my salvation. I am much more enamored by a different idea these days...his birth because of his love for me. This Jesus who looked at the star of his creation and chose to be clothed in the very flesh he wraps us in. To hear of love and to suddenly be taken by it like a wave crashing over you are two very different things. It changes the tasks of the season from preparation to celebration. Not for one or two days, for every moment of being reminded; he loves me. Like Holy Communion each ornament hung, each gift wrapped and cookie baked and "Merry Christmas!" offered is a matter of 'this do in remembrance of me.' To remember love.
For God so loved the world that he trusted us enough to hand frail and foolish human beings a vulnerable baby boy saying, "I know you will do the right thing." For God so loved the world that he allowed a wicked and cruel humanity to torture and kill a young man who was doing nothing more than representing his father saying, "I know you will see the truth one day." For God so loved the world that he welcomed home this child he had offered to us but held the curtain around the throne room open for a fearful and distrusting humanity to slowly realize our terrible mistake saying, "I welcome you in to my embrace when you're ready."
The salvation gained through the birth of the Christ child is one part peaceful knowledge of my future and one part admission that I cannot begin to grasp my own redemption from this side of the veil. But being loved this much with a love that does not wait for the final judgement day to be fully expressed has changed Christmas for me. The weight of the world would crush me if I thought it would only be lifted when I die. I do not have enough faith for that kind of salvation. I am not saved by a promise of heaven only. I am daily saved by love.
Christmas is for me now. A celebration of all that I have gained through the love of God. I have gained many things in my life that will remain for my children and grandchildren to sort through. These are not the evidence of being loved. The life within me that cries out with joy, "My God and My Savior!" is the reason for the season.
These chains are gone, I've been set free. The chains of rejection and fear; chains of not belonging and not deserving; chains of wondering if life will ever taste good to me. These chains are gone.
The calendar that marks the days and years of the world tells my story. When Jesus drew his first mortal breath, the chains that held my life locked within itself fell away. Christmas means I have been in love for 2,009 years.
Merry Christmas to me.
Pic: Dayboyz, Jay & Mac. "Twinkle & The All Star Angel Band" 1991
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.